May 9, 2009

 


Courtesy USC

COLLEGE PARK, MD - The top-seeded USC women's water polo team is bound for the 2009 NCAA Championship game after punching a powerful semifinal win over Hawai'i today in College Park, Md. Three different Women of Troy snagged hat tricks on the way to USC's 17-5 win over the fourth-seeded Rainbow Wahine. The Trojans tote a 16-game winning streak and a 26-1 overall record into the NCAA Championship game against UCLA at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday (May 10) at Maryland's Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium.

USC's 17-5 semifinal win runs the Trojans' NCAA scoring total up to 39 goals in their first two games, while their defense has given up just seven on the way into the title match. The Trojans are making their sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, last winning in their first appearance in 2004. Sunday's championship game will mark USC's fourth trip to the title match and third in the past four years. The 2009 NCAA Championship game will be televised live by CBS College Sports.

Leading the scoring charge for the Women of Troy in today's semi were Kami Craig, Alexandra Kiss and Michelle Stein with three goals apiece. Forel Davies, Nadia Dan and Kristen Dronberger each tallied a pair to help further the Trojan balance of eight different scorers. On the defensive end, Ilse van der Meijden manned the cage and racked up nine saves including a pair of point-blank stops from set.

With USC's third goal of the game, Michelle Stein took sole possession of the No. 3 all-time slot for single-season goals, notching her first of the game and 71st of the year. That wouldn't be all for the senior, nor for her fellow Trojans, as they opened up a 6-0 lead on the Rainbow Wahine. Hawai'i would get on the board in the final moments of the half with a 5-meter penalty shot awarded to Hawai'i after USC called for a timeout before it had gained possession of a loose ball. That would make it 6-1 going into halftime, as the Trojans had piled up four unanswered goals in the first frame on strikes by Forel Davies, Kami Craig and Kristen Dronberger to go along with Stein's 6-on-5 rocket. Stein added to her tally with a strike in the second, and Dronberger deposited a nearside skipper for USC's sixth straight goal of the half.

The third period was peppered by exclusion whistles. USC converted on four of their opportunities, while Hawai'i was unable to finish off its 6-on-5 chances. The Rainbow Wahine did pull through with a score after the teams had pulled even. Hawai'i also earned pair of trips to the 5-meter penalty spot, hitting one of its two penalty tries to get a pair of goals through in the frame. USC, meanwhile, saw Alexandra Kiss lace in two scores, while Davies zipped in the opener and Nadia Dan rocketed another. Craig tallied her second of the day with a blast from set, and Kally Lucas went nearside on a USC 6-on-4 opportunity to bounce USC ahead 12-3 going into the fourth period of play.

USC's push toward tomorrow's title match gained steam when Dan hit Sarah Van Norman for a two-meter bar-in. Dan deposited her second goal when she finished off a 6-on-5 assist from Davies, and USC was up 14-3 at the 4:45 mark of the fourth. Carrying a defender on her back, Craig rifled in her third after Hawai'i had managed a score on a lob. And although the Rainbow Wahine got a tip-in to go through on a power play, USC answered right back. Stein's third came on a penalty shot at 1:42, and Kiss rounded out the scoring with a long-range bomb to cap off a hat trick for herself and a 17-5 final for the Women of Troy.

NCAA SEMIFINALS - Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium (College Park, Md.)
USC 17, Hawai'i 5
USC 4 - 2 - 6 - 5 = 17
UH 0 - 1 - 2 - 2 = 5

SCORING:
USC - Kami Craig 3, Alexandra Kiss 3, Michelle Stein 3, Forel Davies 2, Kristen Dronberger 2, Nadia Dan 2, Kally Lucas, Sarah Van Norman.
UH - Dagmar Genee 2, Carmen Eggens, Sivian Pardon, Samantha Motekaitis.

SAVES: Ilse van der Meijden (USC) 9, Serena Bredin (UH) 4.

Postgame Quotes

No. 1 USC Trojans

Head Coach Jovan Vavic

On the match:
"Our defense did a great job in forcing Hawai'i to take bad-angle shots and our goalie was outstanding, she really made some great saves. It was a great team effort, we had eight girls who scored, and our 6-on-5 was very good, we converted eight extra-man opportunities and a penalty shot. We played with a lot of energy and we were excited to be in this game."

On preparing for the championship game:
"Every game is different and tomorrow is a different game, but every time you win and you win big it's a good preparation. Hawai'i was tired; I think the LMU game took a lot out of them. They aren't very deep, so we could see that they did not have the energy to stay with us. This was an easy game and that is why the number one seed is so important, because you have an easier match and more energy."

Freshman goalie Ilse van der Meijden

On the match:
"We started pretty good. Our offense was super and on defense we did what we had to do. We knew that they post up a lot and run a lot of picks, so we watched what they did and knew what they were going to do."

No. 4 Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine

Head Coach Michel Roy

On his thoughts on the game:
"We had opportunities in the game to tie it or kept it close, but USC is a great team and they have a lot of depth. Basically what we did yesterday killed out top seven to eight players that we play with. We don't have as much depth; power to them. They played great, they played hard. They are a great team and very well coached. Jovan (Vavic) is an amazing tactician."

On how the team got behind early:
"It was a little bit of everything. We missed a few shots that could have kept us in the game. But when you are down 4-0, 5-0, it's hard to mentally see that you can come back. They kept coming at us. They went six in (to the pool) and six out, and I could only go one in and one out. I wish them the best of luck in the finals."