No. 3 USC Falls Short Of MPSF Final With 6-5 Semifinal Loss To No. 2 Stanford|
April 29, 2017
WESTWOOD, CALIF. — The No. 3 USC women’s water polo team got back in stride in clinging tight to No. 2 Stanford in today’s MPSF Semifinals, but the Cardinal was able to get the goals it needed to fend off the Trojans, emerging with a 6-5 victory in Westwood. USC had the game locked up in midway through the third period, only to see Stanford strike back to keep the upper hand and hold it the rest of the way. The loss puts the Trojans at 27-3 overall and moves USC into tomorrow’s (April 30) third-place game against either No. 4 seeded Cal or top-seeded host UCLA at 12:45 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Center in Westwood.
Stanford snagged the opening goal for an early advantage, but USC’s Brianna Daboub nabbed the steal on the next Cardinal attack and the Trojans would go the other way. Maud Megens laced a pass to Ioanna Haralabidis, who buried the early equalizer with a crosscage blast that knotted it up 1-1. Less than a minute later, though, Stanford was up on a 6-on-5 and converted to get back in the lead. And while USC’s shots kept finding only crossbars and posts, Stanford got some padding with a goal to go up 3-1. In the second period, defense reigned supreme on both ends. USC went off the post three more times on three 6-on-5 chances while the Trojan defense held the Cardinal scoreless on the other end to keep it at a 3-1 margin in Stanford’s favor for halftime.
USC made the first move of the second half with a smooth 6-on-5 conversion, as Stephania Haralabidis hit Maud Megens for the feed into Brigitta Games. The senior finished it off with a slam at the post, and USC was within one, down 3-2. Again, Stanford had a quick response, padding the lead back to two with a shot to the top corner. This time, USC found a speedy answer — again from Games — as Daboub found Games for another rocket from set. Stanford would earn 5-meter penalty shot for a chance to build back a two-goal advantage, but the shot went bar-out, and goalie Amanda Longan hauled in the rebound. On the next possession for the Trojans, Avery Peterson popped a pass into set out to Kelsey McIntosh on the wing, and the freshman slotted it crosscage to level the game a 4-4 with 4:29 on the clock in the third. Less than a minute later, Stanford was awarded a power play and found the top corner again to steal back the lead, up 5-4. Longan would come up big on a series of defensive stops for the Trojans in the final stretch of the third, and USC was down one entering the fourth frame.
Longan opened the fourth with another clutch save to turn away another Stanford 6-on-5 opportunity. Midway through the fourth, however, Stanford earned another 5-meter penalty shot and converted for a 6-4 lead with 4:37 remaining. About two minutes later, Games’ hard work at set got the Trojans a 5-meter penalty shot of their own, and Stephania Haralabidis stepped right up and hammered it home to bring USC within one with 2:52 to go. Longan would make a big save to turn away the Cardinal, but USC was unable to break through for an equalizer in the last stretch to wind up just short in a 6-5 loss.
2017 MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS (Spieker Aquatics Center | Westwood, Calif.)
SAVES: Amanda Longan (USC) 10, Gabby Stone (STAN) 6.