USC Wins 2016 MPSF Championship!|
May 1, 2016
BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. — The top-ranked USC women’s water polo team captured its fourth MPSF Championship today with a come-from-behind 8-5 win over Stanford at the Hillman Memorial Aquatic Center in Bakersfield. USC had trailed by two early in the game but later rattled off four straight goals in the fourth quarter to take a commanding lead for a power move toward preserving the Trojans’ undefeated 2016 record. Now 23-0 overall, USC awaits the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement, which will be made tomorrow (May 2) on ncaa.com.
USC’s big guns on the day were decidedly Avery Peterson and Brianna Daboub, who matched each other with three goals apiece while Amanda Longan took control on the defensive end. The freshman goalie amassed 12 saves against Stanford to provide the backbone in USC’s comeback push. Down 5-4 early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans turned the tide with a four-goal surge. Daboub catapulted in a the first and last goals of the rally, while Peterson added her third and Hayley McKelvey sent in a screamer as USC forged a path to a 7-4 advantage in less than three minutes of play. Three minutes and 30 seconds later, USC was holding an 8-5 lead as the buzzer sounded, and soon after the Trojans were holding the MPSF Championship trophy aloft.
Stanford had the Trojans on their heels early in the game as the Cardinal crafted a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes of action. USC kept clanging the cage on the offensive end, but finally broke through when Peterson collected Melissa Bergesen’s shot off the post and shoved it through to get USC on the board, down 2-1 late in the first. The second period would see a stalemate ensue. The USC defense would turn away two more Stanford 6-on-5 chances, but the crossbar put a stop to a couple more USC shot attempts as the half wound down with Stanford still holding a 2-1 lead on the Trojans.
In the third, Daboub used the crossbar to her advantage with a sizzling bar-in strike from distance to equalize things at 2-2. Stanford would convert on yet another power play opportunity to go back ahead, but the USC defense clamped down the rest of the way. Midway through the third, McKelvey hit Peterson at two-meters for the turn and blast to level the game again at 3-3. Longan would make a bold move to shut down a dangerous counterattack chance for the Cardinal, and Nikki Stansfield would come up with one last steal to end the third in a 3-3 lockup.
Stanford served up another go-ahead goal in the early stages of the fourth to step out to a 4-3 lead, but that’s when Daboub knocked in her second goal to send the Trojans off on a winning surge to victory. While the USC defense had the Cardinal on lockdown, Daboub, Peterson and McKelvey pieced together a four-goal rally to put Stanford out of reach. After Stanford snapped the run with a power play score with just over a minute to go, USC’s Ioanna Haralabidis would have the last word as she picked off a Cardinal pass an then caught the Stanford goalie out of position, sailing in USC’s eighth goal with 18 seconds left to leave the game as a commanding 8-5 USC victory to pocket the 2016 MPSF Championship.
SAVES: Amanda Longan (USC) 12, Julia Hermann (STAN) 9.