USC's Brigitta Games & Stephania Haralabidis Named Cutino Award Finalists|
May 3, 2016
For the fourth time in program history, USC women's water polo has a pair of nominees in line for collegiate water polo's highest honor. USC juniors Brigitta Games and Stephania Haralabidis have been announced as finalists for the Peter J. Cutino Award, which will be presented in a ceremony at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 4. Both All-Americans, Haralabidis and Games represent the remarkable balance on the 2016 USC women's roster. A left-handed driver, Haralabidis is the team's top scorer, while two-meter power Games has control in the center position and stands as the Trojans' second leading scorer. Together, the two Women of Troy have helped their team to an undefeated 23-0 record as they now turn to take aim at a fifth national championship next weekend.
Games' and Haralabidis status as Cutino Award finalists runs USC's all-time count of nominees for the honor to 15 finalists. Since USC goalie Bernice Orwig won the inaugural Cutino Award in 1999, there have been a grand total of five Women of Troy to win the award -- considered the Heisman Trophy of water polo. Back-to-back winner Kami Craig was the last Trojan to capture the Cutino, having done so in 2009 and 2010. USC's last finalist was Monica Vavic, who was up for the award in 2013 as the 13th all-time USC nominee. USC has had two finalists for the Cutino Award three other times, in 2006 (Lauren Wenger & Brittany Hayes), 2009 (Kami Craig & Michelle Stein) and 2010 (Kami Craig & Tumua Anae). Past USC women's Cutino Award winners are: Bernice Orwig (1999), Aniko Pelle (2000), Moriah Van Norman (2004), Lauren Wenger (2006) and Kami Craig (2009 & 2010).
In her second season at USC, junior two-meter Brigitta Games continues to turn heads as a power player at set. USC's second leading scorer with 36 goals so far this season and freshly inked with a spot on the MPSF All-Tournament Team, Games just collected her first MPSF award with a spot on the 2016 All-MPSF Second Team. A 2015 ACWPC All-America Honorable Mention recipient and a member of last year's MPSF All-Newcomer Team, Games has upped her game even more in her junior year. She has struck in 20 different games and also nabbed her first career MPSF Player of the Week accolades this year after a standout effort in an 8-5 rivalry win over UCLA during MPSF play.
Recently crowned the MPSF Player of the Year, junior driver Stephania Haralabidis is the Trojans' top scorer this season with 55 goals to date. In doing so, Haralabidis has bumped up her career count at USC to 177 goals, ranking No. 8 all-time in the history books. Named to the MPSF All-Tournament Team after USC's run to the 2016 crown last weekend, Haralabidis also picked up a pair of MPSF Player of the Week selections in 2016 as she's helped pace the Trojans to their undefeated record. She was an MPSF All-Newcomer Team honoree as a freshman and was named to the All-MPSF Second Team last year while currently standing as a two-time ACWPC All-American. This year, Haralabidis has scored in 21 of the 22 games in which she's played.
Games and Haralabidis are joined by UCLA's Mackenzie Barr as the 2015-16 Peter J. Cutino Award women's finalists.
The winners will be announced at the 17th Annual Cutino Awards Dinner to be held Saturday June 4, 2016 at The Olympic Club's City Clubhouse in San Francisco.
The award is given annually in honor of the late Peter J. Cutino, the former University of California Berkeley and The Olympic Club coach, who passed away in September 2004. Mr. Cutino is in the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame. He won "Water Polo Coach of the Year" 17 times. He led UC Berkeley to eight NCAA National Championships. In his career Mr. Cutino also coached in the Pan American Games, the Water Polo World Championships and the World University Games.
Past Cutino Award winners:
2010 - Kami Craig (USC) & J.W. Krumpholz (USC)
2011 - Annika Dries (Stanford) & Ivan Rackov (California)
2012 - Kiley Neushel (Stanford) & Joel Dennerley (USC)
2013 - Melissa Seidemann (Stanford) & Balazs Erdelyi (Pacific)
2014 - Annika Dries (Stanford) & Balazs Erdelyi (Pacific)
2015 - Kiley Neushel (Stanford) & Kostas Genidounias (USC)