No. 2 USC Drops MPSF Regular-Season Finale At No. 1 UCLA|
April 22, 2017
WESTWOOD, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC women’s water polo team carved a five-goal deficit down to two on two occasions in the second half, but top-ranked UCLA found the goals it needed to keep the Trojans at bay in today’s regular-sason finale in Westwood. The 11-7 loss to the Bruins gives USC a 26-2 overall record and a 5-2 finish in MPSF play to secure the No. 3 seed into the coming MPSF Tournament, which runs April 28-30 in Westwood.
The game opened in a tug-of-war with UCLA striking first and USC finishing an answer with a 6-on-5 minutes later. Denise Mammolito’s 6-on-5 shot clanged the crossbar, but Hayley McKelvey was there to flip the ball back to herself for the spike and a 1-1 lockup at 4:30 in the first. UCLA found a swift answer and went back ahead with a bar-in blast 30 seconds left, putting it back on USC to respond. The Trojans did so with a long pass from goalie Amanda Longan to Stephania Haralabidis, who turned and sizzled in a skipper to equalize things at 2-2. The Bruins converted on their first 6-on-5 chance of the game next, and UCLA would take a 3-2 lead that would hold to the end of the frame.
In the second period, the Trojan offense was stymied by a series of bar-out shots while UCLA was able to click off three more goals. The Bruins managed three goals in the second while USC came up empty, and the Trojans were in a 6-2 hole by halftime. In the third, UCLA rang up a goal out of the gates to make it a 7-2 lead, but USC was undeterred. The Trojans would manufacture a three-goal scoring surge to get back in the game. Brigitta Games was the spark with a power move and finish at set to break up almost 12 minutes of scoring silence for USC. The Trojan defense would clamp down on a UCLA 6-on-5 next, and a counterattack bullet from Stephania Haralabidis made it 7-4. Two minutes later, Ioanna Haralabidis found Maud Megens going sky-high for an impressive Trojan strike, and it was 7-5 with three minutes left in the third. The Bruins wouldn’t let it get any closer, whoever. UCLA got a goal to go just 20 seconds later and then converted on a 6-on-5 to build a 9-5 advantage in the final minute of the frame. USC got the last word on a rocket from Megens to the top corner, and it would be a 9-6 UCLA lead going into the fourth.
USC won the opening sprint for the first time in the game to kick off the fourth, and the Trojans would earn a power play soon after. Ioanna Haralabidis saw her shot nail the crossbar, but Games was there to snag the rebound and hammer in the goal, making it a two-goal margin once again. The Trojans saw two more 6-on-5 chances go awry, though, while UCLA scored twice more in rounding out an 11-7 final victory for the host Bruins.
USC takes the No. 3 seed into the MPSF Tournament, lined up for a 12:45 p.m. quarterfinal clash against No. 6 seed San Jose State on Friday (April 28) back at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center in Westwood.
#1 UCLA 11, #2 USC 7
SAVES: Amanda Longan (USC) 10, Carlee Kapana (UCLA) 5.