April 8, 2015
USC Water Polo Release
No. 3 USC will honor its seniors before squaring off against No. 8 San Jose State this Saturday (April 11) for another round of MPSF action. The Women of Troy (20-2, 3-1 MPSF) are set to take on the Spartans (18-8, 4-2) at 4 p.m. at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Before the opening sprint, USC will honor seniors Eike Daube, Michelle Mercado, Sara Salamon, Jennifer Stiefel and Monica Vavic for their time at Troy in a Senior Day ceremony.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
THE LAST MEETING
|San Jose State (5th Place)||9
April 27, 2014
Uytengsu Aquatics Center
No. 3 USC Powers Past San Jose State For Fifth At MPSF Tournament
The No. 3 USC women's water polo team kicked into high gear in today's fifth-place clash with San Jose State at the MPSF Tournament, roaring out of reach of the No. 5 seeded Spartans with an explosive 21-9 victory at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Nine Women of Troy ripped into the back of the net today, led by a four-goal outing from Monica Vavic and hat tricks from Jayde Appel, Jennifer Stiefel and Kelly Mendoza. USC improves to 24-3 overall with the victory, now awaiting the seeding selections for the coming NCAA Tournament, which the Trojans will also host at Uytengsu Aquatics Center, from May 9-11.
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 erupted with a four-goal scoring rally that finally tugged the Trojans into the lead in the fourth period of play to set the table for a 6-5 comeback in over No. 4 host California last weekend. Up against a stingy Golden Bear defense in Berkeley, USC was forced to play catchup early and would fall behind by two goals in the second half. After freshman Brianna Daboub broke the silence for the Trojans, senior Monica Vavic added three straight goals to get USC ahead of its hosts for good. Vavic would finish the game with four goals, giving the senior 82 goals this season -- second most all-time in USC history -- and running up her career total to 273. Already the Trojans' all-time top scorer, Vavic now stands at No. 3 in the MPSF career record books. USC was in stride with the Bears through the first 12 minutes of action, but was always chasing Cal on the scoring front. The Bears broke through first with a score from distance on their first possession of the game. USC manufactured a quick response when Jennifer Stiefel hit Jayde Appel for a nice reach and strike from the post to equalize. Both teams were rendered scoreless the rest of the period, though, as defense stiffened. In the second, the Bears managed another breakthrough blast with a well-placed shot to take Cal ahead 2-1 in the first minute of the second frame. After Cal was whistled for an exclusion, USC charged on. Vavic isolated herself and ripped in the finish to pull even again, locked at 2-2 with 4:58 left in the half. Two minutes later, though, Cal got another one to go, and the Bears would hold a 3-2 edge for halftime. In the third, Cal heaped pressure on the Trojans with a bar-in blast for a two-goal advantage, up 4-2 with 4:28 on the clock. It would take a few minutes, but USC's power move found its spark in a deft string of passes. Stiefel sent the ball in to Avery Peterson at set, and Peterson popped the ball back out to Daboub. Daboub made the most of her opportunity and hammered it home to bring USC back within reach at 4-3. In the fourth, Vavic went on a solo mission in front of the cage, spinning and powering up for an impressive finish that made it an even game once more, locked at 4-4 with 4:56 left in regulation. Less than a minute later, Appel was doing work at 2-meters. She'd earn the Trojans a 5-meter penalty shot, and Vavic was there for the go-ahead goal, up 5-4 with 4:02 remaining. Three minutes after taking the lead, the Trojans converted again on a key strike. Vavic made her move, and Stephania Haralabidis hit her on the drive, catching Cal unawares as Vavic sliced in her fourth goal of the game to top off a four-goal scoring surge for the Trojans. That had USC up 6-4 with 1:01 to go -- an advantage that reaped benefits when Cal was able to drum up one last goal but still was stuck out of reach of the Trojans. USC would secure a 6-5 victory that gives the Trojans a leg up in the MPSF race, now holding a 3-1 record in conference play with two games to go.
The No. 8 Spartans enter the week 18-8 overall and 0-4 in MPSF action after losing to Stanford 23-6 last week. Clara Espar leads SJSU in scoring with 80 goals so far. Goalie Katelynn Thompson is averaging 8.1 saves and 8.3 goals-against per game in her 25 appearances. USC is 29-0 all-time against San Jose State after two wins last season. USC beat SJSU 10-9 in San Jose and then won 21-9 in the fifth-place game at the 2014 MPSF Tournament.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these 22 games of 2015, USC is outscoring opponents 383-96, leading the MPSF in offense (17.41 gpg) and in defense (4.36 gapg). Senior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 82 goals -- second most single-season goals in USC history -- as she has climbed to No. 1 all-time in career scoring (273 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 6.7 saves per game and 4.3 goals-against per game in her 21 appearances to date.
UCI INVITE RECAP
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.
DABOUB ON THE BOARD
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, 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. The freshman has now provided 18 goals to date for the Trojans.
TITANS OF TRITON
USC's youth movement has been 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 were the first of each Trojans' career. Haralabidis scored five goals in the semifinal win over No. 11 CSUN and then replicated that with another five goals tallied in the 10-50championship 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 in the title match vs. No. 6 UC Irvine. 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.
MONICA ON HER MARK
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.
MORE HISTORY FOR MONICA
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 273 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. 3 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.
LOCKED AND RELOADED
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. The freshman has proven Vavic right in many ways. She's picked up two MPSF Newcomer of the Week awards (Feb. 10 & March 31) with the latest honor coming after a win over LMU, where Chamorro blocked three 5-meter penalty shots.
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.