No. 3 USC Edged Out Of NCAA Final With 11-10 Semi Loss To No. 2 Stanford|
May 13, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- In another intense, down-to-the wire NCAA clash, the USC women's water polo team saw No. 2 Stanford sneak ahead in the fourth quarter and hold on to claim an 11-10 NCAA Semifinal win over the Trojans in a rematch of last year's epic national championship game. The loss leaves the Trojans with a 29-4 overall record as their 2017 campaign comes to a close.
USC worked out to a two-goal lead -- its first advantage of the game -- in starting the second half with back-to-back goals. Senior Avery Peterson earned the exclusions to get her Trojans up on the power play on both occasions, with Maud Megens firing the go-ahead goal first. Junior captain Brianna Daboub finished off the next 6-on-5 chance for USC, netting her second goal of the game en route to a hat trick by the captain. Stanford would manufacture a swift response, however, leveling the game with two goals in a minute's span, and the back-and-forth battle that had begun in the first half was back in play.
The game had the makings of a defensive battle as both teams' defenses forced shot clock violations from their opponents out of the gates. But then, the offenses started clicking. An all-out shootout ensued in the first frame as Stanford's Maggie Steffens accounted for the first three Cardinal goals while USC had an answer each time from a different Trojan each time. Annika Jensen rifled in USC's first goal of the game to make it 1-1, then Brianna Daboub pulled USC even again at 2-2 with a rocket to the top corner. Stanford would score on a 6-on-5 next to move ahead again, only to see Hayley McKelvey work her way to an impressive finish to knot it up at 3-3. Stanford would get the lucky ricochet off a defender next, and USC fired right back as Maud Megens hit Stephania Haralabidis for a screamer that got it locked up 4-4. The Cardinal would earn a 5-meter penalty shot with a minute left in the first and converted, holding 5-4 lead entering the second period.
After a defensive start to this one, Brigitta Games popped the ball out to freshman Denise Mammolito on the wing for a searing skipper that made it 5-5. Another Stanford goal was tallied off a defensive deflection next to get USC behind 6-5, but then Avery Peterson went to work at set. The senior earned her team a 5-meter penalty shot, and Megens stepped up to deliver and get it even once more at 6-6. One last save from Amanda Longan would preserve that score, and the teams entered the second half knotted up even.
With Peterson making power moves at 2-meters, USC earned and converted on back-to-back 6-on-5s to take the lead. Megens' fake and blast got USC ahead 7-6 for its first lead of the game, and then Daboub showed her savvy on the next power play to lodge a 8-6 lead for the Trojans. Stanford got two even scores to go next, however, and it was even again a 8-8 with 4:03 on the clock in the third. Brigitta Games would earn USC's next power play opportunity, and a slick passing series saw Megens hit Haralabidis, who found Daboub ready to pounce on the post again for the junior's hat trick and a 9-8 USC lead at 1:47. Longan came up with a huge stop against Stanford's 6-on-5 chance next, and USC would take a 9-8 lead into the fourth.
There, Stanford was granted a 6-on-5 and saw another score come off a defensive deflection to knot it at 9-9. Thirty seconds later, Stephania Haralabidis ripped in a rocket off the foul to take her Trojans ahead 9-8 with 4:34 to go. That lead lasted all of 14 seconds, though, as Steffens stepped up and struck her fourth goal of the game to make it 9-9. Stanford got another 6-on-5 chance soon after and got the quick strike to go for an 11-10 lead with 3:46 remaining. Try as they may, the Trojans were unable to crack the Cardinal in the final stretch. Longan and the defense staved off Stanford the rest of the way, but could not get the equalizer on the other end as time ran out on USC's hopes of reaching the title match.
At the close of competition, two Trojans earned all-tournament honors, with Stephania Haralabidis named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team and Maud Megens selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team.
2017 NATIONAL COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Indianapolis, Ind.)
SAVES: Amanda Longan (USC) 9, Gabby Stone (STAN) 5.