No. 2 USC Aims For Another Tourney Title In Trip To Barbara Kalbus Invite|
Feb. 22, 2017
The No. 2 USC women's water polo team comes off a week's break in competition to dig in for competition at the 2017 Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine. The undefeated Trojans grip a 14-0 overall record and are riding a 41-game win streak dating back to the final game of 2015 as they now turn to defend their tournament title from last season in Irvine. USC will open up this year's tourney with an 11:15 a.m. matchup against No. 20 LMU on Friday (Feb. 24). A win there would put the Trojans up against their next group play foe -— the winner of Friday's game between No. 7 Hawai'i and No. 11 Pacific — at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 25). A victorious stand in group play would send USC on to the semifinals that Saturday afternoon. On Sunday (Feb. 26), placement games will be held, with the championship match set for 1 p.m., preceded by an 11:30 a.m. third-place game.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2016 ranked No. 2 in the national preseason poll and in the MPSF preseason poll. USC remains the No. 2 team in the land in this seventh week of 2017 competition.
BARBARA KALBUS INVITATIONAL NOTES
This year's edition of the competitive UCI Invitational — renamed this year as the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in honor of longtime friend and water polo icon Dr. Barbara Kalbus, who was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2013 and who passed away last year. This year's tournament features 16 teams, including six of the seven MPSF teams in USC, UCLA, California, Stanford, San Jose State and Arizona State. The teams are arranged into groups of four teams, as follows:
Group A: #1 Stanford, #8 Michigan, #9 UC Santa Barbara, #22 CSUN
Group B: #2 USC, #7 Hawai'i, #11 Pacific, #20 LMU
Group C: #3 UCLA, #6 UC Irvine, #12 San Diego State, #16 UC San Diego
Group D: #4 California, #5 Arizona State, #15 Long Beach State, #17 San Jose State
Group play opens with one game apiece for each team on Friday. On Saturday morning the second stage of group play will be completed to decide the afternoon semifinal matchups. On Sunday, placement games will be held. Last year, the Trojans made a winning run at the 2016 UCI Invitational. USC opened up with a 13-3 win over CSUN and then topped UC Irvine in a tight 11-10 victory to earn a place in the semifinals. Up against Stanford in the semis, the Trojans trailed the Cardinal 5-2 entering the fourth period. In that frame, USC made a winning push, netting the go-ahead goal from Stephania Haralabidis with five seconds left and then holding on to win it 7-6 and move into the title match. There, the Trojans' undefeated start to the year was on the line in a clash with rival UCLA. USC stayed largely in control throughout in finishing off a 10-7 victory over the Bruins to claim the UCI Invitational championship and improve to 11-0 overall.
USC rolled its way to another Triton Invitational title in the Trojans' most recent action, beating four teams to claim the tournament championship on Feb. 12 in La Jolla. Led by five goals from Maud Megens, USC opened up with an 18-2 win over Santa Clara to start the first day of play. That afternoon, Brigitta Games and Stephania Haralabidis each had hat tricks to help lift USC to a 17-4 win over San Diego State. The next day, USC put its silencers on in the fourth period of both contests to top off another run to a Triton Invitational championship. In the semifinal round against No. 6 Michigan, USC worked out ahead of the Wolverines to notch a 9-5 win and move on to the title match. There, the Trojans poured on a run of eight consecutive goals, rendering the Sun Devils scoreless as USC crafted a 12-2 lead entering the final minute of the game. One last big save from goalie Victória Chamorro — her 12th save of the game — wrapped up the resounding victory for the Trojans, while Haralabidis finished off a hat trick during the surge to victory.
VIC PICKS UP MPSF ACCOLADES
Junior goalie Victória Chamorro gave up just four goals and accumulated 19 saves in her two appearances in the cage for the Trojans at the Triton Invitational. For her stellar efforts on the defensive end, Chamorro picked up her first career selection as MPSF Player of the Week on Feb. 14. In a complete-game effort in the championship match against #5 Arizona State, Chamorro collected 12 saves while allowing just two goals to the Sun Devils in a 12-2 championship win for the Trojans. The previous day, she checked in for three periods of work against #17 San Diego State and made seven saves in that stretch while allowing just two goals through by the Aztecs. Chamorro’s effort in the cage helped USC successfully defend its Triton Invite title and improve to 14-0 on the year. With 329 career saves to her name to date, Chamorro ranks No. 6 all-time on the Trojans’ career saves list.
STEPH STRIKES IT BIG AT WINTER INVITE
Stephania Haralabidis set a new career high and tied the MPSF single-game record with nine goals scored in the final game of the Winter Invitational over the weekend. Now, the senior has picked up her fourth career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week and the first of 2017. Haralabidis’ nine-goal outburst came in USC’s 19-5 win over No. 9 host UC Santa Barbara, marking the Trojans’ fifth straight win at the event. Haralabidis let all USC scorers with 17 goals totaled across those five games. She opened the season with a single goal scored in a 17-3 win over No. 8 Michigan on day one. On the second day, Haralabidis scored twice in a 22-1 win over Cal Baptist and punched in two more in a 16-3 win over CSUN. The final day was Haralabidis’ big one, as she had a hat trick in a 13-8 win over No. 5 Hawai’i before the record nine-goal explosion against UCSB.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through the first 14 games of 2017, undefeated USC has outscored opponents 259-47. Senior Stephania Haralabidis is the top scorer to date with 46 goals — giving her 231 career goals to lock her in at No. 3 on USC's all-time scoring chart. Behind her on the 2017 scoresheet sits freshman Maud Megens with 31 goals and Ioanna Haralabidis with 26 goals to date. On the defensive end, three goalies have checked into the cage to date. Sophomore Amanda Longan has logged minutes in nine games, averaging 10.8 saves and 4.0 goals-against per game. Junior goalie Victória Chamorro has appeared in seven games and averages 10.5 saves and 2.5 goals-against per game. One of those outings saw Chamorro collect 11 saves in just one half of action at UCSB. Freshman Holly Parker has also capped up in her first year as a Trojans, making 12 saves and allowing just seven goals in her six appearances. The Trojan defense has held 13 of its 14 opponents silent in at least one period of play while accumulating a grand total of 26 shutout periods this season so far.
ON THE RISE
Greek twins Stephania Haralabidis and Ioanna Haralabidis are climbing in the USC record books. Stephania opened 2016 ranked as USC's No. 8 all-time career scorer. Now 14 games into 2017, she is already closing the gap on the No. 2 spot, holding 231 career goals to date — 24 away from that next rung on the career ladder. Ioanna, meanwhile, started out 2017 at No. 20 in the record books. After 14 games, she has catapulted to No. 11 all-time, holding 144 career goals as of Feb. 14. While those two are rising in the ranks on the offensive end, two Trojans are making their marks on the USC career saves sheet. Junior Victória Chamorro — who set a USC freshman goalie record with 207 saves in her first season at Troy — now boasts 329 career saves to rank No. 6 on the career saves charts. Sophomore Amanda Longan is a spot behind, sitting at No. 7 all-time with her 218 saves and counting.
OH CAPTAINS, MY CAPTAINS
USC's leadership corps is a veteran pair, with senior Avery Peterson and junior Brianna Daboub standing tall as USC's team captains for the second straight season. Both All-Americans and All-MPSF Honorable Mention recipients, they also are both MPSF Scholar-Athletes. And of course, they captained the Trojans to an undefeated 2016 season to claim their first national crowns. With 66 career goals to her name, Peterson stands out as a 2-meter power for the Trojans. Daboub has rung up 73 goals to date.
BRINGING BACK THE BALANCE
USC's 2017 roster looks strikingly similar to last year's NCAA Championship crew. The Trojans' overall balance is back, with all six top scorers returning, along with an All-American pairing of goalies in sophomore Amanda Longan and junior Victória Chamorro back in the cage. In all, the returning Trojans accounted for 88 percent of the scoring last year, while Longan and Chamorro combined for an average of 8.8 saves and 4.7 goals-allowed per game in 2016.
Senior captain Avery Peterson is one of five seniors on the roster for 2017, joined by fellow All-Americans Brigitta Games, Ioanna Haralabidis and Stephania Haralabidis, along with Nikki Stansfield. A further depth charge of veteran talent with winning experience comes from juniors Brianna Daboub, Annika Jensen and Hayley McKelvey. All warriors, all competitors, and all fiercely devoted to their team and the task at hand.
On last year's All-American list, there was one USC freshman standing tall among them. At 6-foot-2 Amanda Longan was an impact player as soon as she splashed down at Troy, Longan quickly made herself at home as half of an impressive goalkeeping tandem for the Trojans — sharing time with 2015 All-American and Brazilian Olympian Victória Chamorro. Now a junior-sophomore goalkeeping tandem, Chamorro and Longan are yet another expression of the youth movement making waves alongside USC’s juniors and seniors. They have some backup this year as well, with freshman Holly Parker having proven herself fully capable of stepping into the cage as she has logged seven saves and allowed only three goals in her six periods of action so far.
THE NEW CREW
When it comes to this year’s freshman class, there are already several new faces that are forcing opponents to take notice. Dutch import Maud Megens has emerged as the headliner so far. She tallied 10 goals in her first five games of action to stand as USC's third leading scorer after that first week of work. Denise Mammolito also made noise in week one, punching up six goals, while fellow freshmen Elise Stein, Sawyer Belville and Kaylee Brownsberger also notched their first career goals as Trojans in those first days of competition at the UCSB Winter Invitational.
2017 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
The defending national champions are coming off an undefeated run through 2016, with head coach Jovan Vavic at the helm for the 23rd season. The USC women are looking to claim back-to-back national titles for the first time in program history. Their 13th consecutive NCAA appearance was a fortunate one, as the Trojans topped off 2016 by raising the NCAA trophy. Picked No. 2 in the National and MPSF Preseason Polls, the Trojans weigh in just behind top-picked Stanford for the second straight season. USC returns all six 2016 All-Americans, including Cutino Award winner Stephania Haralabidis and Cutino finalist Brigitta Games. In addition to those two powers — both seniors this year — USC has seven All-Americans on the roster for 2017. Both All-American captains, Brianna Daboub and Avery Peterson, return, having combined for 63 goals last year. Peterson's career-best 35 goals in 2016 was matched by Ioanna Haralabidis. In all, USC returns 12 members of last season’s 16-player NCAA roster. •