WESTWOOD, Calif. — The top-seeded USC women’s water polo team kept its undefeated 2016 record solidly intact in securing a 12-3 win over San Diego State in Friday’s NCAA quarterfinal match in Westwood. The Trojans took control early in plugging in four straight goals on the hands of four different scorers. USC’s balance was in full display in the win, with two goalies combining forces to hold the Aztecs to just three goals while seven Trojans notched goals on the day.
Now 24-0 overall, USC moves into the NCAA semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (May 14) against Michigan at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Complex. USC is aiming to finish off its second undefeated season in program history and capture a fifth national championship this weekend.
In today’s quarterfinal matchup at the 2016 National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championships, USC struck first on its opening possession to establish its position in the match. Stephania Haralabidis worked the ball to Hayley McKelvey, who found Brianna Daboub for a blast that tugged the Trojans to an early 1-0 lead. McKelvey would finish things off herself on USC’s very next attack, and then Haralabidis kept things clicking with a setup to Brigitta Games for a rocket that put San Diego State in a 3-0 hole less than two minutes into the game. USC stingy defense — backed up by freshman goalie Amanda Longan — would shut down back-to-back 6-on-5 chances for the Aztecs.
Avery Peterson would nab a steal next, and wound up converting at the other end with a score out of set to tack up a 4-0 lead for the Trojans. SDSU broke its silence with a backhand blast with 2:28 on the clock, but that was promptly answered by Games’ second tally of the quarter as she struck again to get USC a 5-1 lead by the close of the first.
In the second, USC would drum up two more goals to take command of the game. McKelvey would serve up her second goal in finishing off a Peterson pass to close down a USC 6-on-5 and step out to a 6-1 lead. Minutes later, Courtney Fahey sent over an assist to Melissa Bergesen, who got on the board with a quickfire shot to nudge USC to a 7-1 advantage. SDSU was able to convert a 6-on-5 score next to pin up the Aztecs’ second goal of the game, only to see Longan squash their next power play before Stephania Haralabidis sliced in a slick score to help close the half as an 8-2 USC lead.
In the second half, sophomore goalie Victória Chamorro took over the cage and combined forces with the Trojan defense to allow only a single goal in the final 16 minutes. That would come late in the third, but only after Dagmar Gudmundsson and Daboub pumped in back-to-back goals for the Trojan cause. USC would take a 10-3 lead into the final frame, where McKelvey finished off her hat trick with a slick bar-in blast off an assist from Haralabidis. The finishing touches on the day would come from Bergesen, who took a feed from Nikki Stansfield to hammer home the goal that would wrap the game as a 12-3 USC victory.