LOS ANGELES -- No. 3 seeded Southern California kicked off its home stand at the 2014 NCAA championships with a 14-11 win against No. 6 seed UC Irvine Friday at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The defending national champions now pull into a semifinal bout against crosstown rival UCLA. The Trojans and the No. 2 seeded Bruins are set to tangle at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday in the NCAA Semifinals. USC takes a 25-3 overall record into the rivalry clash.
In Friday's quarterfinal matchup with No. 6 seed UC Irvine, the Women of Troy put their offensive balance on display. Ten different Trojans got to the back of the net in the game as USC created some comfortable distance between itself and the Anteaters. Olivia Cummins was the 10th on the day, punching up a 13-8 USC advantage midway through the fourth period. USC's top scorer on the day was Monica Vavic with a hat trick for the Trojan cause. She delivered the first strike for USC, breaking up an early stalemate when she finished off a pass from Kaleigh Gilchrist to nudge USC to a 1-0 lead. Ioanna Haralabidis delivered a blast on a USC power play in the final minute of the first frame to make it 2-0.UC Irvine came up with the last word in the first, second and fourth periods of play, notching a goal with just 2 second to go in each of those frames, but it was USC's balance that prevailed down the stretch. After a 2-1 first period, USC rallied in the second. Vavid buried an early 5-meter penalty shot earned by Jayde Appel, and although UCI would net a 6-on-5 score next, the Trojans plugged in three consecutive goals to make their statement. Jennifer Stiefel, Eike Daube and Colleen O'Donnell finished off some nice ball movement to build a 6-2 lead on the Anteaters.
UCI cut back to within two to make it a 6-4 halftime score, only to see the Women of Troy kick down the door in the third period. Gilchrist, Appel and Vavic scored a minute apart from one another to heft the Trojans to a 9-4 lead. By the end of the frame, that five-goal margin was intact, thanks to a cool counterattack finish from Madeline Rosenthal and a Daube strike off a Stephania Haralabidis feed. USC goalie Flora Bolonyai would haul in a save at the buzzer to deny the Anteaters another late-frame goal, and USC was up 11-6 entering the fourth. There, the Anteaters were able to wrangle some scores, but the Trojans stayed strong as Stephania Haralabidis hit the back of the net twice and Cummins joined the fun to help USC wrap up an eventual 14-11 victory.