Women’s water polo falls to UCLA

first_imgIt was a rough Saturday in Westwood for the USC women’s water polo team, as the No. 3 Women of Troy couldn’t find their scoring touch and fell to No. 2 UCLA by a score of 9-5 in both teams’ regular-season finale.Like most matches between these two crosstown rivals, the energy and atmosphere was unlike any normal regular-season game.Not only were there bragging rights on the line, but it was also UCLA’s Senior Day, and Bruin fans came out in full force to pack Spieker Aquatics Center. The Women of Troy (21-3, 4-2 MPSF) were ready to play spoiler in Westwood, but the excitement of the game was soon gone after the Bruins (21-2, 5-1 MPSF) scored the first goal of the game and held onto that lead for the rest of the afternoon.Scoring woes and missed opportunities for USC, plus timely goals by the Bruins, would ultimately cost the Women of Troy the game, as they fell into an early deficit by halftime and were never able to fully recover.The five goals scored against the Bruins were USC’s second lowest scoring output this season, the lowest being the 5-3 loss to UCLA at the UC Irvine Invitational back in February. Scoring typically hasn’t been a problem for the Women of Troy this season though, as USC leads the MPSF in offense with 17.57 goals per game while also managing to outscore opponents by a whopping 409-111 margin.Head coach Jovan Vavic notes that his team could be deadly when they are clicking on offense, but against UCLA, that scoring prowess was fleeting.“We have been very, very good scoring-wise against a very good defensive team like [No. 1-ranked] Stanford where we scored nine goals in regulation, and against any other opponent, we have been in double digits,” Vavic said. “Cal kept us at less than 10 goals and UCLA too, but against every other opponent, we’ve scored 10 goals or more. We know we can be the most dangerous team in the country.”USC, however, just couldn’t find the back of the net on Saturday, scoring just one goal in the first frame, none in the second, three in the third and just one in the fourth.From the start, the Bruins came out of the gates hot, as UCLA’s Kodi Hill scored 33 seconds into the game. Four minutes later, a 6-on-5 goal by Alys Williams pushed the Bruin lead to 2-0 before senior driver Monica Vavic notched goal of her own to end the first frame with a 2-1 score in favor of the Bruins.UCLA would then add two more goals in the second frame while blanking USC, taking a 4-1 lead into halftime.The Women of Troy would make it interesting in the third frame, as freshman utility Hayley McKelvey scored once, and Vavic added another 6-on-5 goal to cut the deficit to one. Just as the Women of Troy came close, however, another goal was on the board for UCLA, and the Bruins held the score to 5-4 going into the final frame.Despite the comeback efforts by the Women of Troy, the fourth period was ultimately all about UCLA, as they would outscore USC by a 4-1 margin.A goal by Mackenzie Barr and another by Hill in the opening minutes pushed the Bruin lead back up to three before Vavic converted a five-meter penalty shot that was earned thanks to junior                           two-meter player Jayde Appel with two minutes left on the clock. But that was the closest USC would get, as UCLA would manage to score two more goals before the whistle blew to end the game with a 9-5 win.UCLA was led by attacker Rachel Fattal, who scored four of her team’s nine goals, and goalie Sami Hall, who recorded eight saves on the day. The Women of Troy were led offensively by Vavic’s three goals, while McKelvey and sophomore driver Stephania Haralabidis added one goal apiece. Freshman goalie Victória Chamorro was once again steady in the cage for USC, tallying 11 saves on the day. Chamorro deflected a number of 6-on-5 scoring opportunities and five-meter shots for the Bruins throughout the game, but ultimately, the high-powered UCLA offense was too much for the Women of Troy to handle.The lone bright spots for USC on Saturday were the performances by Chamorro and Vavic.The Brazilian goalie’s 11 big saves in the cage was good enough for game-high honors, while the All-American first-team driver Vavic moved up the ranks in MPSF history for career goals scored.Her 88 goals on the year is already second-most ever in a single season at USC, while her hat trick against the Bruins upped her total to 279 career goals, giving her sole possession of No. 2 all-time in MPSF scoring history.With anywhere between two and six games left in the season depending on conference and NCAA tournament results, Vavic needs just eight more goals to surpass current record-holder Molly Smith of Pacific, who recorded 286 career goals between 1997-2000.Despite the loss, Vavic still thinks his team can make a strong push when they head into the MPSF Tournament next weekend.“Our team still has better chemistry this year compared to last year, I think. Winning a close game against Cal, and also being down to Stanford at home by three goals and then coming back to tie that game, those are the signs of a team that doesn’t quit,” Vavic said.USC must now prepare for the upcoming MPSF Championships this weekend in Tempe, Arizona, where the Women of Troy have earned the No. 3 seed. USC will face off against No. 6 San Jose State Friday at 12:30 p.m. MST.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *