No. 3 USC Cruises Up To Cal To Face No. 4 Golden Bears

    Hayley McKelvey and the Trojans splash down in Berkeley this weekend to face Cal.
    April 1, 2015

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    No. 3 USC stays on the warpath this week with a trip to Berkeley in the cards for the Trojans. USC (19-2, 2-1 MPSF) carries a five-game win streak into its clash against No. 4 4 California (16-4, 2-1). The Trojans and the Golden Bears will do battle at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 4) at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks with Chris Dorst and Kevin Danna on the call.

    California (3rd Place)6
    February 22, 2015
    Irvine, Calif.
    No. 3 USC Captures Third At UCI Invitational
    he No. 3 USC women's water polo team wound up with a third-place finish at the 2015 UCI Invitational today. The defending tournament champs stalled out in the semifinals in taking a 5-3 loss to No. 2 UCLA to move into the afternoon's third-place game. There, the Trojans dug in and rallied, tacking up a 12-6 victory over No. 4 California to end things in winning fashion. USC goes to 13-1 overall with the split on the final day of action in Irvine.

    USC opened 2015 ranked No. 3 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. Now 11 weeks into the season, the Trojans remain ranked as the nation's No. 3 team.

    USC rolled up two well-balanced wins last week, showing some seriously stifling defense in both road victories. Against No. 17 LMU, the Trojans held the Lions scoreless for over 21 minutes of play on the way to a 20-6 win. Victória Chamorro registered three saves against LMU 5-meter penalty shots to highlight the defensive effort, while 11 different Women of Troy scored in the win. The next day, USC nabbed a 19-5 win over host CSU Bakersfield, keeping the Roadrunners silent for the last 17 minutes of play in that one. The Lions had the Trojans in a hole on two occasions in the first frame, but USC manufactured a powerful antidote with a 15-goal surge to stake its claim on a win. Jayde Appel and Monica Vavic led the scoring charge with a hat trick apiece in the game. The next day, USC headed to Bakersfield for an MPSF matchup. The Trojans saw the Roadrunners score five goals in the first half before clamping down. USC didn't allow a single shot by CSUB in the third quarter while crafting a scoring surge on the other end to put its hosts out of reach. Ioanna Haralabidis led the scoring charge in matching her career-high -- last hit also in a win over CSU Bakersfield to start the season -- of five goals. Twin Stephania Haralabidis was next in line with a hat trick, helping lead another hefty group of USC scorers on the day. In all, nine Trojans got to the back of the net in this one, following that group of 11 scorers at LMU. Goalie Chamorro hauled in five saves, although her workload was cut down a bit by the fact that the Trojan field was stiflingly successful in cutting down shots allowed by the Roadrunners. After USC took a 9-5 lead at halftime, CSUB would not get a single shot off in the second half until midway through the fourth quarter of play. Senior Monica Vavic would plug in two more goals in that win to run her 2015 scoring total up to 78 goals, setting a new personal record for single-season scoring while also bumping her career total up to 269 to now rank No. 4 all-time in the MPSF in career goals. Vavic already has taken over as USC's all-time top scorer. For her stifling work in the cage over the weekend, Chamorro was named MPSF Newcomer of the Week for the second time this year.

    The No. 4 Golden Bears enter the week 16-4 overall and 2-1 in MPSF action after beating San Jose State 10-9 in sudden death and CSU Bakersfield 11-6 last week. Dora Antal leads Cal in scoring with 2.65 goals per game. Goalie Madeline Trabucco is averaging 5.7 saves and 6.1 goals-against per game in her 20 appearances. USC is 32-18 all-time against Cal after a 12-6 win earlier this season in the third-place game of the UCI Invitational. Last year, the Trojans beat the Bears 12-7 in the semis of the UCI Invitational, 12-7 at USC in MPSF play and then 11-8 in the third-place game at the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

    Through these first 21 games of 2015, USC is outscoring opponents 377-91, leading the MPSF in offense (17.95 gpg) and in defense (4.33 gapg). Senior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 78 goals -- third most single-season goals in USC history -- as she has climbed to No. 1 all-time in career scoring (269 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is sophomore Stephania Haralabidis with 52 goals, followed by Ioanna Haralabidis with 42 and junior newcomer Melissa Bergesen and senior Eike Daube with 34 apiece. Daube cracked the 100-goal mark with her two-goal effort at UC Irvine on Feb. 28 and now holds 112 career goals to rank No. 21 all-time in scoring at USC. Stephania Haralabidis passed the century mark on March 13 vs. ASU, and now holds 110 career goals to rank at No. 22. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable new anchor in freshman goalie Victória Chamorro, who is averaging 6.6 saves per game and 4.2 goals-against per game in her 20 appearances to date.

    USC went into the 2015 UCI Invitational defending back-to-back titles at the competitive early-season tournament. Seeded No. 3 for this year's edition, the Women of Troy opened up group play with an 11-3 win over No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and then stayed balanced and powerful in ending the first day with a 14-4 win over No. 6 Arizona State. That put the Trojans into the semifinals against rival No. 2 UCLA. That match presented more of a defensive battle, and USC would wind up short in the low-scoring affair, taking a 5-3 loss to the eventual tourney champion Bruins to move into the third-place game. There, USC was ready to go in a clash with No. 4 California. The Trojans peeled out ahead of the Bears and pinned up a 12-6 win to wrap the tourney on a winning note with a third-place finish. Monica Vavic was USC's top scorer at the event, punching up nine goals with scores in every game, including hat tricks vs. ASU and Cal. Fellow senior Eike Daube drummed up seven goals, also striking in every game and with a hat trick vs. UCSB. Sophomore Ioanna Haralabidis also registered a hat trick vs. Cal, finishing up with five goals at the tourney. In goal, Victória Chamorro went the distance in all games. The freshman topped out with 10 saves in the third-place victory over Cal. She had eight saves vs. ASU and seven vs. UCLA.

    During USC's winning effort at the Lancer Invitational, freshman Brianna Daboub was a perfect 8-for-8 on the offensive end of the pool. Her eight goals across the four games helped USC improve to 10-0 on the year, and also earned her the honor of MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 17. Daboub had scored just three goals in USC's previous six games coming into the Lancer Invitational, but stepped up and scored two goals in the opener against host Cal Baptist. She'd add another goal that day in a win over Redlands, and then upped her scoring game further the next day. Daboub delivered her first career hat trick in a win over Pomona-Pitzer and then scored twice in a win over Occidental to wrap the event with eight goals on eight attempts. It was Daboub's first career award as a Trojan, making her the second USC newcomer to win the award this season. Fellow freshman Victória Chamorro earned the honor on Feb. 10.

    USC's youth movement is showing its strength, with sophomore Stephania Haralabidis named MPSF Player of the Week and freshman goalie Victória Chamorro named MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 10 for their roles in helping the Trojans claim the Triton Invitational championship. Haralabidis was an offensive force for the Women of Troy, while Chamorro backed up the USC defense to great success. The respective MPSF honors are the first of each Trojans' career. Haralabidis twice won Newcomer of the Week honors last season as a freshman. Haralabidis had a huge final day at the Triton Invitational to help power the Trojans to the tournament title. She scored five goals in the semifinal win over No. 11 CSUN and then replicated that with another five goals tallied in the championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Hot out of the gates in both games, Haralabidis had four goals in the books by halftime vs. CSUN and a first-period hat trick against UCI. She'd finish out the tournament with 14 total goals after providing two apiece in wins over Cal State East Bay and Long Beach State on the first day of competition. Chamorro set a career best for herself in hauling in 15 saves during USC's Triton Invitational championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Chamorro went the full four quarters in that one, which USC won 10-5. She'd finish out the tournament with 27 total saves in her 13 periods of work, having played the first three frames in each of the first three games at the tourney. In all, Chamorro allowed just 11 goals during the tournament.

    In USC's first games of 2015, Monica Vavic got out to a career-best start. She plugged in a career-high eight goals in the Trojans' season-opening win over CSU Bakersfield and then added six more goals in a win over Cal Baptist at the UCLA Invitational. For her powerful kickoff to her senior season, Vavic was selected the MPSF Player of the Week on Jan. 20. Along with her grand total of 14 goals, Vavic also contributed eight assists and seven steals in her five periods of work across the two wins. Vavic served up five assists in the 33-5 win over the Roadrunners and then had three more assists in the 24-3 win over Cal Baptist. Her eight goals scored in the opener matched the most goals in a single game by an MPSF player since 2007 and the most by a Trojan since Aniko Pelle in 2001.

    Senior Monica Vavic has blazed a trail up the career ladder at Troy and now has her name etched at the top, having decisively taken over as USC's all-time leading scorer with 269 career goals to date. The record finally fell with Vavic's third goal scored against ASU on March 13 at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. That blast pushed Vavic past Olympian Aniko Pelle, who had set the previous best of 255 when she finished her USC career back in 2002. Vavic also is making her mark in the MPSF history books. She now ranks at No. 4 all-time in the conference. The top conference scorer is listed as Pacific's Molly Smith with 286 career goals. Earlier this year, Vavic tacked up another new record for herself, having scored a USC and MPSF record of nine goals in a single game with her effort on Feb. 14 vs. Pomona-Pitzer.

    USC's three returning All-Americans alone have proven they can provide serious firepower. Monica Vavic topped the charts in 2014 with 75 goals on her way to a third straight selection as an All-American. Eike Daube and Stephania Haralabidis were first-time All-American honorees last season, having served up a combined 102 goals in weighing in as USC's next most prolific scorers. All told, six of USC's top eight scorers are back for more in 2015. Seniors Daube, Vavic and Jennifer Stiefel were right in that mix last season. Stiefel punched in 31 goals; Daube was third on the team with 44 goals; and Vavic's 75 goals pumped up her career tally to 191 to rank her No. 7 all-time in career scoring -- 64 goals shy of the all-time record. Fueling the offensive fire further are now-sophomores Stephania and Ioanna Haralablidis, whose 58 and 33 respective goals as freshmen make them key elements for 2015 as well, along with junior Jayde Appel, who struck 25 goals last year. Needless to say, USC has an adept ability to score.

    USC's backbone for the last four seasons has been in the cage. Olympian and four-time All-American goalie Flora Bolonyai has now graduated, leaving the defensive duties to a new international import. Brazilian national teamer Victória Chamorro takes over as USC's starting goalie, backed up by returners Alegra Hueso and Melanie Slater, who both got in good game action last season. Head coach Jovan Vavic sees Chamorro as a burgeoning talent for the Trojans.

    2015 OUTLOOK
    Twenty years ago, Jovan Vavic got the ball officially rolling for women's water polo at USC. Fair to say, that ball just continues to pick up speed. Under Vavic's guidance, the Women of Troy have won four national championships since that inaugural 1995 season. And ever since winning their second title in 2004, Vavic's Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament every single season while capturing two more crowns along the way. This year, the USC women show no signs of losing any of that postseason steam. Besides coach Vavic, there are three Women of Troy who have already had a taste of NCAA Championship glory. Junior Jayde Appel and senior All-Americans Eike Daube and Monica Vavic were all three members of USC's 2013 national championship team. Their veteran savvy provides the groundwork for this 2015 roster, which is also replete with plenty of talented youth to help drive USC back toward a 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA tourney after a third-place finish last season and a 26-4 overall mark. •