No. 3 USC Hits Home Waters For Sunday Clash With UC Irvine

    Kaleigh Gilchrist is a goal away from moving up to No. 13 all-time in career scoring at USC.

    April 2, 2014

    USC Water Polo ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    In pursuit of kickstarting a new win streak, the No. 3 Trojans settle into home waters for the remainder of their 2014 campaign. The defending national champions have three more regular-season contests before turning to host both the MPSF Tournament and the NCAA Tournament at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. First up in this lengthy home stand for the Women of Troy (20-1, 4-1 MPSF) is No. 6 UC Irvine (17-6), which comes to Troy for a 3 p.m. nonconference clash on Sunday (April 6). The game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks with Chris Dorst and Greg Mescall on the call.

    UC Irvine (Championship)3
    February 9, 2014
    San Diego, Calif.
    No. 1 USC Captures First Crown Of 2014, Winning Triton Invitational Title
    The No. 1 USC women's water polo team opened the 2014 campaign on a winning note with a victorious run through the Triton Invitational in San Diego. The Women of Troy followed up yesterday's group play with a strong 10-4 win over Arizona State in today's semifinals before dealing out an 8-3 win over UC Irvine in the championship bout this evening.


    USC opened 2014 ranked No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans stayed in the top spot in the land until this week, following a loss to Stanford. The Cardinal and UCLA are now tied at No. 1, and USC weighs in at No. 3 in this week's national rankings for the 11th week of 2014 competition.

    In the leadup to last week's NCAA Championship rematch against Stanford, the Women of Troy had two games to get through before that tangle with the Cardinal. The Trojans got out of the gates strong, pinning up a 21-5 win over visiting Hartwick on Thursday behind scoring from 10 different Women of Troy. Stephania Haralabidis led the charge with four goals while Monica Vavic delivered a hat trick in that one. USC would skip town for a journey to Northern California next, setting up for an MPSF matchup at No. 8 San Jose State on Saturday. USC shrugged off a slow start in San Jose, manufacturing a six-goal surge that erased a three-goal deficit and put the Trojans in position for their 27th consecutive victory. USC would hold on for a 10-9 final win to extend its winning run through 2014 on its 20th win of the year. The following day, USC was up against No. 3 Stanford in the Cardinal's home pool. The game was the first meeting between the two teams since the 2013 NCAA final, where the Trojans had won in triple sudden death to claim the national championship. In this regular-season meeting, USC again found itself in a three-goal hole, but the Trojans could not fire back this time. The Trojans had taken a 3-2 lead during the second period, but Stanford rallied with six straight goals to take a commanding lead and secure a 9-5 win over USC, snapping the Trojans' 27-game win streak and handing them their first loss of the year for the second straight season. Senior Colleen O'Donnell would finish the busy stretch as USC's top scorer, having provided seven goals across the three games after coming into the week averaging just 0.7 goals per game. She scored twice vs. Hartwick, had a hat trick against San Jose State, and scored two more against Stanford.

    The No. 6 Anteaters are 17-6 overall after a 9-5 win over Hawai'i in their last action. UCI will face UC Davis in a Big West Conference match on Saturday before coming to Troy. Danielle Warde leads UCI in scoring with 41 goals to date. Goalie Jillian Yokum is averaging 6.3 saves and 6.6 goals-against per game in 20 appearances. USC is 21-3 all-time against the Anteaters with wins in the past 21 meetings. USC beat UC Irvine 8-3 earlier this year at the Triton Invitational. Last season, the Trojans beat the Anteaters 11-3 in Irvine.

    USC made a statement with its surge to a second consecutive UCI Invitational title. The Trojans again went big on day one in securing their place in Sunday's semifinals with two strong wins on Saturday. There, USC topped Bakersfield 21-1 before taking out No. 10 Cal State Northridge 12-5. That put USC in a semifinal bout against No. 4 California, and the Trojans were up to the task. Freshman Stephania Haralabidis delivered her first four-goal game to lead the Trojans, with Eike Daube delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to further charge up USC. The Trojans' balance kept them out of reach of the Bears on the way to a solid 12-7 win over the Bears. That moved the Trojans into the title match against an upset-minded UCLA squad that had just served up a big win over No. 2 Stanford. That game opened as a defensive battle in comparison to the high-scoring affairs the Women of Troy had been posting on the way in. The Bruins registered the first goal of the game and would put USC in a 2-0 hole out of the gates before Madeline Rosenthal drew first blood for the Trojans with a score from the post during the first frame. The second period would go scoreless until freshman Stephania Haralabidis leveled the score with a strike 20 seconds before halftime hit. In the third, UCLA took a 3-2 lead, but this time Ioanna Haralabidis would come through with the equalizer for the Trojans, locking it a 3-3 with 3:34 on the clock. Colleen O'Donnell bounced USC into the lead for the first time with a score during the third, and she'd pad it out to a 5-3 advantage early in the fourth. The Bruins cut it down to 5-4 with 1:37 to go, and UCLA would get up on a 6-on-5 in the final minute, converting to lock the game back up 5-5 with just five seconds left in regulation. That brought up overtime, where UCLA scored its third straight to take a 6-5 lead midway through the first frame of OT. In the second, the Trojans buckled down. Winners of a triple sudden-death overtime in the 2013 NCAA Championship game, the Women of Troy remained resolute and focused. Just 42 seconds into the second overtime period, Daube whipped in a crosscage score to pull USC even at 7-7. It wasn't long until Daube would deliver again, striking a skipper to take a 7-6 advantage that would hold the rest of the way as USC successful fended off the Bruins to capture the championship.

    For the second time in five years, both the USC men's and women's water polo programs made a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House as NCAA Champions. United States President Barack Obama extended an invitation to national championship teams from around the country for the opportunity to tour the White House and meet the President on March 10. Head coach Jovan Vavic brought his latest crews of champions, along with his coaching staff and a few support staff, on the memorable journey. Members of USC's 2013 women's team -- which won the title in a sudden-death victory -- and members of the 2013 men's teams -- which won a sixth consecutive title with an overtime victory -- took the trip to Washington. The last USC teams to make such a visit were the Trojans' 2010 champions. That was the last year that the USC men's and women's water polo teams went back-to-back with NCAA championships.

    Through these 21 games of 2014, USC is outscoring opponents 323-96, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 54 goals as she has climbed to No. 7 all-time in career scoring (170 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is freshman Stephania Haralabidis with 43 goals, followed by Kaleigh Gilchrist with 27, Eike Daube with 26 and freshman Ioanna Haralabidis with 25. Gilchrist also is on the career climb, ranking No. 14 all-time with 134 career goals. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.7 saves per game and 4.7 goals-against per game in her 19 appearances to date.

    USC has several Trojans on the rise in the record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 165 career goals to have cracked the all-time top-10. With four goals vs. Bakersfield on March 7, she took over the No. 8 spot previously held by two-time Olympian Kami Craig. She's now tied at the No. 7 spot. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 134 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 14 all-time, having bumped another two-time Olympian, Lauren Wenger out of that spot last week. She's one goal away from joining former teammate Joelle Bekhazi at the No. 13 slot. 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 807 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 Orwig 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.

    Senior goalie Flora Bolonyai was a wall in the cage for the Trojans in their run to capturing the Triton Invitational championship and earned her first season 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. In all, Bolonyai finished the weekend with 33 saves and seven goals allowed while. On March 17, Bolonyai earned another pick as MPSF Player of the Week after a 12-save outing in a win over Cal.

    Following the top-ranked Trojans' powerful run to the 2014 UCI Invitational championship, USC made it an MPSF sweep of the weekly awards. Junior Eike Daube has locked in her first career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week, and freshman Stephania Haralabidis has hauled in her first collegiate award as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Daube went big for the Trojans on the crucial second day of the UCI Invitational, delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to help lead the Trojans to a 12-7 semifinal win over No. 4 Cal before coming up clutch in the championship game. Daube scored twice during the second overtime period to pull USC out of a 6-5 OT hole and secure the tournament title for the Trojans with a 7-6 comeback win against No. 3 UCLA. Her five goals on Sunday paired with a goal during group play the previous day to give Daube total 16 goals just 12 games into the year. As a sophomore, Daube scored 23 total goals in all of 2013. Haralabidis was the Trojans' top scorer at the UCI Invitational. With 10 goals in the tourney, Haralabidis also was key in propelling USC to its second straight UCI Invitational championship. In the semifinal against No. 4 Cal, Haralabidis set a career high for herself with a four-goal game in the win over the Bears. She added her 10th goal of the tourney with an early equalizer for the Trojans in their comeback win over No. 3 UCLA in the title match.

    USC had a profitable Spring Break trip to Hawai'i, cashing in with three wins in Honolulu to extend the Trojans' win streak out to 25 in a row. Monica Vavic would finish as USC's top scorer on the trip, finishing up with nine goals to score herself a selection as the MPSF Player of the Week for the first time this season. USC opened up with a Friday night clash against Indiana, beating the Hoosiers 15-5 that evening. The next day, it was double duty for the Women of Troy, who pinned up a 12-3 win over Long Beach State before dealing out a 14-6 win over host Hawai'i that same day. Defensive stands were the name of the game in all three victories for the Trojans. Against Indiana, USC held the No. 14 Hoosiers scoreless for 16 minutes of action, while spreading the wealth among 11 scorers in the win. The following day, the Trojans were stifling out of the gates in both matches. USC scored the first nine goals of the game against the 49ers and the drummed up the first 10 against the Rainbow Wahine en route to the dominating victories.

    Freshman Stephania Haralabidis tallied a first-half hat trick for the Trojans in their MPSF opener, delivering three goals in USC's 15-6 win over No. 5 host Arizona State. For her efforts, Haralabidis picked up back-to-back honors as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week, following up her Feb. 24 pick for her work in helping USC to the UCI Invitational championship with another selection on March 3. Haralabidis' three goals against Arizona State came in a four-minute span, helping USC along to an early 6-2 lead on the Sun Devils. In addition to her three goals on four shots taken, Haralabidis also won three sprints, had three steals and served up three assists in the win. Haralabidis now stands as USC's second leading scorer with 43 goals. She has scored in all but one game this season.

    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.

    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.

    USC proudly welcomes visitors to the new state-of-the-art Uytengsu (pronounced `wee-TENG-soo') Aquatics Center this season. Made possible by the largest gift ever by a former USC student-athlete, swimmer Fred Uytengsu, the new home of the Trojan aquatics programs officially opened 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 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. •