Top-seeded USC cruises into title match with win against Hawaii in semifinals
BOSTON -- Top-seeded USC made another power move into the NCAA title match with a strong 16-9 win against No. 4-seed Hawaii in the NCAA semifinals at Harvard's Blodgett Pool.
The Trojans swamped the Rainbow Wahine, rattling off seven consecutive goals from seven different Trojans to put Hawaii out of reach early.
That effort, coupled with a whopping 13 saves from goalie Flora Bolonyai, propelled the Women of Troy back to the NCAA title match, where USC will take aim at a fourth national championship.
Leading the scoring front were Kaleigh Gilchrist and Jayde Appel, who each finished with hat tricks in the game. Gilchrist's three-goal day bumped her into the all-time top-20 career scoring list at USC. She's up to No. 19 with 107 career goals following Saturday's effort.
Hawaii came out of the gates with a goal to take the first advantage. Monica Vavic equalized things 15 seconds later, sparking that seven-goal surge by the Women of Troy. Gilchrist's go-ahead goal was followed by a 5-meter penalty shot finished off by Anni Espar. Then, a 6-on-5 goal from Hannah Buckling, a rocket from Nicolina McCall and a counterattack finish from Kelly Mendoza took USC ahead 6-1 after one period of play.
Completing the seven-goal push was senior Chelsea Silvers, who struck out of the gates for USC to make it 7-1 Trojans.
Hawaii stopped the run by converting a 5-meter penalty shot and later was awarded another at the close of the half as USC held a 10-4 lead. Jayde Appel plugged in her first goal of the game during the second period and she went back-to-back in the third to carry USC ahead 13-5 with 3:49 to go in the frame.
Coming up big with two huge saves late in the quarter was Bolonyai, who knocked down a Hawaii 6-on-5 shot and later a tough backhand attempt just before the buzzer. She finished with 13 saves in the game, matching her season high. In the final frame, Hawaii got a few more goals, but Dominique Sardo snuck in two more Trojan goals and Gilchrist capped off one last USC 6-on-5 series as the match ended 16-9.
USC is now set to play in its third NCAA final in the past four years, with the Trojans' last national championship coming in 2010 when they beat Stanford.