May 8, 2009

COLLEGE PARK, MD - The top-seeded USC women's water polo team piled up a 22-2 win in its NCAA Quarterfinal game against Cal Lutheran to make a powerful move into tomorrow's semifinal game in College Park, Md. The Women of Troy boosted their winning streak up to 15 straight with today's win over the Regals, with goals coming from the hands of 11 different Trojans en route to the season-high 22 goals. Now 25-1 overall, USC will face either No. 4 seed Hawai'i or No. 5 Loyola Marymount in an NCAA Semifinal showdown at 4 p.m. ET at Maryland's Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium.

To get to today's 22-2 victory, USC recorded two balanced halves of competition. Seven USC goals came in the first and third periods, with four goals in the second and fourth - also defensive shutout efforts by the Trojans. Fourteen of USC's goals came from the hands of freshmen and sophomores, with freshman Nadia Dan leading the way with a career-high four goals. Sophomores Kristen Dronberger and Sarah Van Norman each had hat tricks to join Dan as USC's scoring leaders on the day. Meanwhile, junior goalie Tumua Anae and freshman Ilse van der Meijden tag-teamed the cage to the tune of 13 saves - seven from Anae and six from van der Meijden, who also put up a block against a Cal Lutheran penalty shot.

After Cal Lutheran tallied the first goal of the game, USC plugged in six goals in just over three minutes and blasted in one more before the close of the first period to take over the game early. Sarah Van Norman notched a pair of goals during USC's seven-goal surge, with Kally Lucas, Nadia Dan, Kristen Dronberger, Rosanna Tomiuk and Michelle Stein each getting to the back of the net during the first frame.

As the Women of Troy rounded out the first half with four more goals, Tumua Anae got her save count up to eight before giving way to Ilse van der Meijden in the cage for the second half. In the second period's offensive push, Dronberger worked her way into a hat trick while Lucas got her second of the day and Kara-Leigh Huse scored her first to help lift USC ahead 11-1 by halftime.

Kami Craig earned a 6-on-5 early for Alexandra Kiss to finish off to get USC ahead 12-1 before Cal Lutheran cracked USC's defensive stand. The Women of Troy responded with another offensive explosion, however. USC reeled off a six-goal streak highlighted by Craig and Joelle Behazi's first goals of the night. Bekhazi recorded back-to-back scores with a 6-on-5 finish and a lob off a counterattack to propel the Trojans ahead 18-2 entering the final period.

Securing another shutout effort in the fourth frame was a solid 5-meter stop from van der Meijden, who turned away a penalty effort by Meredith Butte early in the fourth. By the game's end, van der Meijden had six saves to her name and the Trojans were ahead of the Regals 22-2 thanks to three straight goals from Dan to boost the freshman to a career high four goals on the day and one last rocket from redshirt freshman Stephanie Lavayen to round things out on a quarterfinal win for the Women of Troy.

NCAA QUARTERFINALS - Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium (College Park, Md.)
USC 22, Cal Lutheran 2
USC 7 - 4 - 7 - 4 = 22
CLU 1 - 0 - 1 - 0 = 2
SCORING:
USC - Nadia Dan 4, Sarah Van Norman 3, Kristen Dronberger 3, Kally Lucas 2, Joelle Bekhazi 2, Alexandra Kiss 2, Michelle Stein 2, Rosanna Tomiuk, Kara-Leigh Huse, Kami Craig, Stephanie Lavayen. CLU - Meredith Butte, Ashley Bentz.