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.
[assetId:177031:2013 NC Women's Water Polo Championship Asset]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.