USC is looking to make it back-to-back UCI Invitational championships this weekend.
Feb. 20, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
The top-ranked USC women's water polo team carries on its tournament title defense this week as the Women of Troy look to replicate last year's run to the UCI Invitational championship. The 2014 Trojans carry an 8-0 record into this year's edition of the tournament, which has USC opening up against CSU Bakersfield at 8 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 22) in Irvine. A win there would put the Trojans up against the winner of that morning's matchup between No. 8 LMU and No. 10 Cal State Northridge to play for a spot in Sunday's semifinals. With a winning first day, the Trojans would line up for a 10:30 a.m. semifinal on Sunday (Feb. 23). That afternoon, the tournament championship game is set for 5:15 p.m. preceded by a 4 p.m. third-place game.
THE LAST MEETING
April 26, 2013
No. 2 USC Charges Into MPSF Semis
The No. 2 USC women's water polo team tightened up the defense in the second half of play today to build up some extra winning momentum into tomorrow's MPSF Semifinals. The Trojans whipped up a 21-5 win over No. 7 seeded CSU Bakersfield in today's opening round of the 2013 MPSF Tournament, held at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, Calif. The USC defense allowed only one goal by the Roadrunners in the second half, while the USC offense was highlighted by a five-goal day by junior Kaleigh Gilchrist, who ripped in her 100th career goal on her fourth strike of the game. USC improves to 22-1 overall with this win, which advances the Trojans into tomorrow's tournament semifinals.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2014 ranked No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans haven't moved from that top spot in the land as they now enter the fifth week of 2014 competition.
USC posted another big set of wins with its action at the Lancer Invitational last week. The Trojans pinned up 50 goals on day one, beating Fresno Pacific 26-2 and Redlands 24-1. On the second day of play, USC didn't cool off too much more, taking down No. 19 Cal Baptist 19-6 and then beating Azusa Pacific 19-2. Monica Vavic and Kaleigh Gilchrist were the heaviest single-game hitters, matching each other with five goals apiece in USC's first two wins. Vavic hit four to lead USC against the Lancers the next day, and sophomore Natalie Lavinksy was the leader against Azusa Pacific with her first career hat trick. Vavic would finish the event with a team-high 15 goals, while freshman Ioanna Haralabidis had a busy time of it in providing 10 goals for the Trojans. Goalie Flora Bolonyai went the distance in the wins over Fresno Pacific and Cal Baptist, amassing eight and 10 saves, respectively. Alegra Hueso and Melanie Slater would split time in the other two games, with Hueso hauling in a total of eight saves and Slater taking in five to help anchor a stingy Trojan defense.
AT THE INVITE
The 2014 UCI Invitational brings in 14 of the nation's top-18 ranked teams for action in the 16-team field for one of the most competitive early-season tournaments of the year. No. 5-ranked host UC Irvine will be joined by No. 1 USC, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 California, No. 6 Hawai'i, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 8 LMU, No. 10 Cal State Northridge, No. 11 San Jose State, No. 13 UC San Diego, No. 14 UC Davis, No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, No. 18 San Diego State and unranked CSU Bakersfield and Pacific. The Trojans stand as the defending champs after their 13-10 win over the Cardinal in last year's title match.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC turned heads in 2013 in taking a commanding run to the UCI Invitational championship last year. After well-balanced wins over Pacific and San Diego State on the first day of action, the Trojans edged out rival UCLA 11-10 in the semifinals to earn their place in the title match. Up against top-ranked Stanford in the final, USC pounded out a 13-10 upset win over the Cardinal to capture the championship and set in motion the Trojans' takeover of the No. 1 ranking in the nation. USC opened the tourney with 10 different scorers in on the action in both Trojan victories. The well-balanced Trojan attack and stingy USC defense paired up well for a 14-2 win over Pacific and then a 17-5 victory over San Diego State to push USC through to the next day's semifinal round. Up against the Bruins in the semis, USC got the last word in a see-saw battle with No. 3 UCLA. Kaleigh Gilchrist blasted one through with 2 seconds left, and USC held on for the 11-10 victory that put the Trojans into a championship bout with top-ranked Stanford. USC freshman Anni Espar recorded her first hat trick as a Trojan to lead USC's scoring attack against UCLA. Her second of the day got USC a tight 8-7 lead near the close of the third frame, but the game would stay neck-and-neck. The Bruins were awarded a 5-meter penalty shot to open the fourth, converting for the 8-8 tie. Espar again got USC the go-ahead with her third strike making it 9-8. Again, UCLA would draw even, answering that Espar goal and then a Monica Vavic score on a 6-on-5. Locked up 10-10, USC's Gilchrist plugged in what would stand as the winner. Her bullet with 2 ticks to go proved the difference, and the Women of Troy were through to the title match. USC packed some championship punch in a resounding 13-10 takedown of top-ranked Stanford. USC and Stanford would stand locked at 8-8 before the Trojans rammed home three straight scores on goals from Kelly Mendoza, Hannah Buckling and Monica Vavic to go up 11-8. The Cardinal trimmed the USC lead down to one, but some rock-hard USC defense anchored by a stingy USC goalie Flora Bolonyai in the cage paired with goals from Anni Espar and Vavic to secure the championship win for the Trojans. Espar would finish with a game-high four goals for the Trojans, with Vavic and Buckling adding a hat trick apiece to charge up the USC offense for the win. Bolonyai also hauled in nine saves in the win, including a 5-meter penalty stop in the fourth period of play to bring home victory for USC.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these first eight games of 2014, USC is outscoring opponents 145-20, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 26 goals as she has climbed to No. 9 all-time in career scoring (142 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is senior Kaleigh Gilchrist with 13 goals --- to also bump up her career spot to No. 16 all-time (120 career goals) -- along with Stephania Haralabidis holding 13 as well. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.71 saves per game and 2.86 goals-against per game in her six appearances to date.
USC has several Trojans who are on the rise in the career record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 145 career goals to crack the all-time top-10, now tied at No. 9 all-time at Troy. She's 10 goals away from the No. 8 spot. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 120 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 16 all-time, needing just two goal sto move up to No. 15. Defensively, senior goalie Flora Bolonyai has a chance to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader by the end of the year. Bolonyai passed up Tumua Anae last season to take over at No. 2. Now with 694 career saves to date, Bolonyai is closing the gap between herself and all-time leader Bernice Orwig's 838 saves as a Trojan. All three USC goalies hold the distinction of being Olympians, with Orwin holding a silver medal with Team USA at the 2000 Games and Anae captured gold with the United States in 2012 in London. Bolonyai also is a 2012 Olympian, having played for Hungary in those Games.
FLORA IN CONTROL
Senior goalie Flora Bolonyai was a wall in the cage for the Trojans in their run to capturing the Triton Invitational championship and has earned the honor of MPSF Player of the Week for her winning efforts. Bolonyai had 10 saves in a 13-0 group-play win over #16 Cal State Northridge -- securing the sixth shutout victory in program history -- to advance the Trojans to the semifinals. There, Bolonyai pinned up another 10-save effort in a 10-4 win over No. 10 Arizona State for a ticket to the final. In the title match, Bolonyai opened the day with a save against a UC Irvine 5-meter penalty shot, and she'd finish with 11 saves in the 8-3 championship win. Bolonyai started the winning weekend with a couple saves and no goals allowed in one period of work in an opening 25-2 win over Sonoma State. In all, Bolonyai finished the weekend with 33 saves and seven goals allowed while USC opened the year at 4-0 with the victorious trip to San Diego. This is Bolonyai's second career pick as MPSF Player of the Week, following a 2012 selection and going along with a set of three Newcomer of the Week selections from her freshman season in 2011.
The 2014 Trojans return five starters from the last national championship team. NCAA Tournament MVP Flora Bolonyai -- an Olympian and a three-time All-American -- is the undeniable backbone of the team as the Trojans' steadfast goalie. She returns as one of five All-Americans back in the water, joined by fellow senior All-Americans Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza and Madeline Rosenthal. Junior Monica Vavic returns as another All-American as well as the Trojans' top scorer and MPSF Player of the Year last season. That entire group gleaned even more key experience in the offseason, playing internationally throughout the summer along with several other Trojan teammates. Bolonyai won a bronze medal with Hungary at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Gilchrist, Mendoza and Vavic, as well as juniors Colleen O'Donnell and Eike Daube, all spent time with the U.S. National Team. Daube and Vavic combined forces for gold with the U.S. Junior National Team at the FINA Junior World Championships, while Jayde Appel pulled double duty in representing Australia at both the senior and junior World Championships. She'd bring home a World Championship silver medal from Barcelona, where Bolonyai picked up her bronze medal. The international standout list goes on. Back from training with the German National Team is junior Jennifer Stiefel, and new to the Trojan roster this season are the powerful sister act from Greece, Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis.
WELCOME TO UYTENGSU!
USC proudly welcomes visitors to the new state-of-the-art Uytengsu Aquatics Center this season. Made possible by the largest gift ever by a former USC student-athlete, diver Fred Uytengsu, the new home of the Trojan aquatics programs officially opens on Feb. 21. The pool and diving well both were used for the 1984 Olympic Games, but the surrounding facility has an entirely new look. A fancy new scoreboard as well as stands, overhangs, entryways and buildings with event and office space now surround the pools for an arena that also honors the historic tradition of success that Trojan aquatics exemplifies. The first home water polo game in the new Uytengsu Aquatics Center is set for March 7. See you there!
2014 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
USC is coming off a 2013 season in which the Trojans posted a 27-1 overall record, culminating the season by knocking off defending champ Stanford 10-9 in triple sudden death overtime for the 2013 NCAA Championship at Harvard. En route to winning their fourth national championship, the Trojans also won the 2013 MPSF Tournament championship with a win over the Cardinal in that title match. This season, USC returns 2013 MPSF Player of the Year and All-American Monica Vavic, who poured in 77 goals last year, along with senior All-Americans Flora Bolonyai at goalkeeper, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Madeline Rosenthal and Kelly Mendoza. Named the 2013 National Coach of the Year, USC head coach Jovan Vavic now enters his 20th season at the helm of the Trojan women's water polo program.