No. 1 USC Streaks Into Key MPSF Matchup Against No. 2 Stanford

    April 5, 2017

    USC Water Polo Release Get Acrobat Reader

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC10  
    Stanford (Championship)9(OT)
    February 26, 2017
    Irvine, Calif.
    No. 2 USC Takes Down No. 1 Stanford In OT To Win Tournament Title
    The No. 2 USC women's water polo team stuck No. 1 Stanford with an upset as the Trojans pulled out an overtime victory today to claim the championship at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine, Calif. The Cardinal had closed in to tie up the game at the end of the third quarter and then again later in the fourth to bring up overtime. There, USC would issue back-to-back scores to take a lead in the first overtime frame. In the second, Stanford struck first, but USC struck last when it mattered, netting a blast from Ioanna Haralabidis to go up 10-9 with five second left, and USC would fend off the Cardinal for the win.

    #1 USC vs. #2 Stanford
    5 p.m. PT | Saturday, April 8 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    TV: Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles & Pac-12 Bay Area
     LIVE STREAM (Subscription Only) | LIVE STATS

    THIS WEEK

    Top-ranked USC has a key MPSF test ahead, as the Trojans line up against the last team to beat them — 52 wins ago — when No. 2 Stanford comes to town this week. Undefeated USC (25-0, 3-0 MPSF) looks to tack up a sixth straight win over No. 2 Stanford (16-1, 3-0) and keep the ball rolling on the Trojans' record win streak. The Trojans and the Cardinal will square off at 5 p.m. on Saturday (April 8) at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Bay Area with Greg Mescall and Chris Dorst on the call.

    USC IN THE RANKINGS
    USC opened 2016 ranked No. 2 in the national preseason poll and in the MPSF preseason poll. After spending the first seven weeks of the season at No. 2, USC climbed to No. 1 following the Trojans’ win over top-ranked Stanford on Feb. 26. USC remains the top-ranked team in the land entering this 11th week of competition.

    SCOUTING STANFORD
    The No. 2 Cardinal is 16-1 overall and 3-0 in MPSF play after beating Cal 8-2 last week. Maggie Steffens is Stanford's top scorer with 46 goals to date, while goalie Gabby Stone is averaging 9.18 saves and 4.28 goals-against per game. USC is 32-31 all-time against the Cardinal with wins in the last five meetings. USC beat Stanford 10-9 in overtime earlier this season in the title match at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational. Last year, the Trojans posted four wins over the Cardinal — 7-6 in the UCI Invitational semis, 8-3 in the MPSF matchup in Palo Alto, 8-5 in the MPSF Tournament championship in Bakersfield and then an 8-7 nailbiter in the 2016 NCAA Championship game in Westwood. Stanford's last win over the Trojans was USC's last loss overall, a 9-8 decision in the 2015 NCAA Tournament semifinals in Palo Alto.

    GETTING STREAKY
    The USC women set a new national women's record win streak on March 16, winning their 47th straight game in a 15-2 victory over Indiana in a neutral matchup in Honolulu — breaking the previous women's record that had been set by UCLA from 2007-09. The Trojans have since extended the streak to 52 in a row — dating back to the final game of 2015 and including an undefeated 2016 to add to this season's 24-0 mark so far. With the Trojans' overtime win over then-No. 1 Stanford at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational, the USC women broke the USC men's best winning run of 44 in a row (2005-06). The UCLA men hold the longest collegiate water polo win streak with 57 in a row, held from 2014-16.

    LAST WEEK
    USC ripped apart a one-goal deficit with a four-goal comeback surge before piling on six goals in the final period of play to put visiting No. 4 Arizona State out of reach in last week's MPSF matchup at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Teams were trading takeaways early on as the Trojans struggled to find a rhythm against the Sun Devils. USC freshman Maud Megens broke the silence first with a skipper to make it 1-0 Trojans at 3:22, but ASU fired back and landed an answering goal just 21 ticks later to equalize. On the last possession of the frame, ASU got up on a power play and converted to take a 2-1 lead entering the second period. There, the Trojans were able to get their feet under them a bit. USC's defense allowed no more ASU goals in that eight-minute stretch while Avery Peterson leveled things at 5:28. The go-ahead goal came from Megens four minutes later, and she'd then follow up a Stephania Haralabidis steal with an assist to Hayley McKelvey to net a 4-2 lead for USC at halftime. The third frame brought another stalemate to the table and both teams misfired on early 6-on-5 chances. Brianna Daboub would squash an ASU possession with a decisive takeaway to keep USC's defense clicking. Not long after, McKelvey found Ioanna Haralabidis who caught the ASU defense off-balance for a searing score that got USC's its fourth straight goal and a 5-1 advantage. The Sun Devils snapped the USC rally with a lob that landed perfectly to make it 5-3, and then McKelvey nabbed two more steals to lock things down for the close of the third. In the fourth, the Trojans hit a serious offensive groove. McKelvey snipered in her second goal to start things off, and Ioanna Haralabidis delivered to the top corner for her second as well. Brigitta Games tallied two goals of her own in that final stretch, hammering home a 5-meter penalty shot earned by Megens and then pounding in the last goal of the game on a feed from Ioanna Haralabidis. In the meantime, Kelsey McIntosh and Stephania Haralabidis also joined the USC scoresheet to help build out that final 11-4 win for the Women of Troy, as ASU managed only a single 6-on-5 strike in the fourth. For her two goals, three assists and two steals against the Sun Devils, USC freshman Maud Megens earned her second straight MPSF Newcomer of the Week award on April 4.

    MAKING MPSF MARKS
    In the past three week, the Women of Troy have made themselves at home on the MPSF honor roll. Stephania Haralabidis claimed her second MPSF Player of the Week pick of the year after punching up five goals in a tight road win over Hawai'i. A week later, USC made it a sweep as Brigitta Games was named the MPSF Player of the Week, and Maud Megens was selected MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Games had scored 12 goals in three games, including a seven-goal explosion in an MPSF win over San Jose State. Megens totalled seven in that stretch to earn the first MPSF accolades of her young Trojan career. This week, Megens continued to click off key goals to keep USC in winning mode, as she nabbed a second straight selection as MPSF Newcomer of the Week on April 4.

    BIG WINS IN IRVINE
    The nation's best teams tangled in Irvine at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational, and the Women of Troy emerged as the champion in another key tournament with a winning run at the 2017 event. After pinning up its first shutout win of the year to open the tourney, topping No. 20 LMU 14-0 behind a four-goal game from Ioanna Haralabidis and 10 saves from Amanda Longan, USC closed down group play with a 12-4 win over No. 7 Hawai'i. Haralabidis added four more in that one, while goalie Victória Chamorro had a career-high 17 saves to get USC through to the semifinals. There, the Trojans would face rival UCLA for the first time this year, and USC was able to shrug off an early 3-2 deficit and more out ahead of the Bruins for a final 10-9 victory to seal a trip to the title match once again. In a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Championship game, USC was up against top-ranked Stanford, and the game lived up to its billing. The Cardinal tied up the game at the end of the third quarter and then again later in the fourth to bring up overtime. There, USC would issue back-to-back scores to take a lead in the first overtime frame. In the second, Stanford struck first, but USC struck last when it mattered, netting a blast from Haralabidis to go up 10-9 with five seconds left, and USC would fend off the Cardinal for the win. Brianna Daboub led the scoring charge for USC with three goals, while Longan gathered in 12 saves to help keep the Cardinal at bay. For her 10 goals logged at the tournament, including that OT game-winner, Ioanna Haralabidis picked up her first career selection as MPSF Player of the Week. Along the way, Haralabidis also moved up to rank as USC's No. 10 all-time scorer.

    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 354 career saves to her name to date, Chamorro ranks No. 6 all-time on the Trojans’ career saves list. She's gone big this season with several powerful performances, collecting 11 saves in a single half of work at UCSB, and gathering a career-high 17 saves in a win over Hawai'i already this year.

    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 back in January, helping to earn the senior USC's first MPSF Player of the Week award 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 25 games of 2017, undefeated USC has outscored opponents 406-98. Senior Stephania Haralabidis is the team and the MPSF's top scorer to date with 72 goals — sixth most in a single season by a Trojan and giving her 257 career goals to lock her in at No. 2 on USC's all-time scoring chart. Behind her on the 2017 scoresheet sits freshman Maud Megens with 48 goals to date, followed by seniors Ioanna Haralabidis and Brigitta Games with 45 goals apiece. On the defensive end, three goalies have checked into the cage to date. Sophomore Amanda Longan has logged minutes in 17 games, averaging 10.91 saves and 4.59 goals-against per game. Junior goalie Victória Chamorro has appeared in 12 games and averages 10.22 saves and 3.0 goals-against per game. Freshman Holly Parker has also capped up in her first year as a Trojans, making 16 saves and allowing just seven goals in her eight appearances. The Trojan defense has opponents silent in at least one period of play in 20 different games while accumulating a grand total of 41 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. On March 25 vs. Hartwick, she took over as USC's No. 2 scorer, and she now holds 257 career goals to her name. Ioanna, meanwhile, started out 2017 at No. 20 in the record books. After 25 games, she has catapulted to No. 10 all-time, holding 163 career goals to date. On March 4, another USC senior broke into the century club at Troy, as Brigitta Games scored her 100th career goal in a win at CSUB. Games remains on the climb, now seated at No. 22 all-time with 115 career goals. While those three 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 366 career saves to rank No. 6 on the career saves charts and sit 11 away from the No. 5 position. Sophomore Amanda Longan is a spot behind, sitting at No. 7 all-time with her 295 saves and counting.

    OH CAPTAINS, MY CAPTAINS
    USC's leadership corps boasts 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 74 career goals to her name, Peterson stands out as a 2-meter power for the Trojans. Daboub has rung up 84 goals to date. Goalie Amanda Longan also has picked up a captain's role this season, standing out as a vocal defensive leader for the Trojans in her sophomore season.

    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.

    THE VETS
    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 with NCAA Championship experience, all are warriors, and all are fiercely devoted to their team and the task at hand.

    NETMINDERS
    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 16 saves and allowed only seven goals in her 10 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.

    TRITON TITLISTS
    USC rolled its way to another Triton Invitational title last month, 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.

    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. •