No. 2 USC Beats The Bruins To Reach Tournament Title Match|
Feb. 25, 2017
IRVINE, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC women's water polo team worked its way back in reach of another tournament title with a winning day at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine today. The Trojans drummed up a 12-5 win over No. 7 Hawai'i to start the day and secure a spot in the semifinals that evening. There, USC was up against crosstown rival UCLA for the first time this season, squaring off against the Bruins in an evening clash that saw the Trojans score three straight to erase an early deficit and power on to a 10-9 victory, improving USC's overall record to 17-0 on the year. The win over No. 3 UCLA puts the Women of Troy in tomorrow's tournament championship match against top-ranked Stanford at 1 p.m. in Irvine.
Anchored by a career-high 17 saves from junior goalie Victória Chamorro, USC was able to keep Hawai'i at bay in the morning's group play finale. Chamorro squashed numerous Hawai'i 6-on-5 chances -- and more -- as she racked up a new best mark for herself and turned away the Rainbow Wahine. On the offensive end, USC shrugged off a slow start in which the Rainbow Wahine got out to an early 2-1 lead. Seniors Stephania Haralabidis, Ioanna Haralabidis and Brigitta Games rattled off three straight scores to sneak USC into the lead and pad it to 4-2, setting USC back on course. After those seniors combined forces to net USC a 5-3 lead by halftime, four more Trojans got in on the action in the second half. Chamorro would allow only two Hawai'i scores the rest of the way, while Brianna Daboub, Avery Peterson, Courtney Fahey and Kelsey McIntosh joined the scoresheet to help keep USC on its path to victory, which wrapped as a 12-5 final for the Trojans after one last save from Chamorro. Ioanna Haralabidis would plug in four goals in the win to bump her career goal count up to 152 -- pulling her even with NCAA champ and Olympian Kaleigh Gilchrist at No. 10 all-time in USC's history books.
In the semifinal matchup that evening, USC got out of the gates with back-to-back strikes, building a 2-0 lead on scores from Maud Megens and Stephania Haralabidis. But the Bruins fired back with three straight scores to maneuver ahead 3-2 early in the second period. Nikki Stansfield broke the Trojans' silence with a blast that evened things at 3-3, and Megens converted soon after to nudge her Trojans ahead 4-3. UCLA would be awarded a 5-meter penalty shot next, only to see sophomore goalie Amanda Longan come up big for the block. Moments later, Brianna Daboub got some padding for the Trojans on their third straight score, finishing off a power play to build a 5-3 USC lead later in the third. The teams would trade goals next as UCLA converted on two more power plays while Ioanna Haralabidis got to the back of the net at the other end for the Trojans, and the half would close with USC gripping a 6-5 lead over its rival.
Another UCLA power play got the game even at 6-6 early in the third frame, but Hayley McKelvey would come through with back-to-back big goals for the Trojans, netting a 6-on-5 strike and then a counterattack finish off a feed from Stephania Haralabidis to get USC ahead 8-6. Again UCLA would answer with a power play score, cutting it to a one-goal margin again, and that's where the third would close, with USC up 8-7 on the Bruins. The Trojans made what would prove to be a winning move in the fourth. Brigitta Games powered her way to a big goal out of set to make it 9-7 Trojans, and after another stop from Longan it was Stephania Haralabidis who ripped in a goal off a power play earned by Games. Up 10-7 with 4:50 to go, USC was able to fend off the Bruins. UCLA closed the gap to one again, down 10-9 and with one final look to equalize, but a wild finish in front of the cage saw Haralabidis come up with the ball to close down a 10-9 semifinal victory for the Trojans. Longan would wrap the game with 12 saves for the Trojan cause to help send USC on to tomorrow's championship bout against Stanford -- a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Championship game that the Trojans claimed in a perfect season last year.
SAVES: Victória Chamorro (USC) 17, Sarah Logan (UH) 8.
SAVES: Amanda Longan (USC) 12, Carlee Kapana (UCLA) 9.