One week after the Men's Volleyball team fell in the national title game against UC Irvine, the USC Women's Water Polo team will now have an opportunity to win USC's 95th NCAA title when they play this afternoon against Stanford. USC, the #3 seed in the tournament, trounced Princeton in the quarterfinals and then, after three close defeats, finally pulled out a victory over UCLA when it mattered most on Saturday to earn a spot in the final. USC comes in with a 23-5 record, while the Farm comes in with a record of 25-2.
For Jovan Vavic, the head coach of both USC water polo teams, a victory tomorrow would earn him an 11th national title as a Trojan coach. In addition, it would be the third title Vavic would share with one of his children. His son, Nikola, has already won titles in 2010 and 2011 with him, and now Jovan can win one with his daughter Monica, a freshman driver who has scored 38 goals this season.
Other big stars on the team include sophomore Kaleigh Gilchrist, who leads the team in scoring with 47 goals, including five in games against CSU Bakersfield and Loyola Marymount. Junior Flora Bolonyai will be in front of the net for the Women of Troy, needing only one more save to reach the 200-save milestone for the season.
Going into Saturday's final against UCLA, USC had received three of its five losses from the Bruins, losing all of them by only one goal. It was fitting, then, that the Women of Troy finally get their revenge on the national stage and put forward their strongest performance against a top team. The match was even through the first half, with USC leading 6-5 at the half. But in the third quarter, after trading goals one more time, juniors Patricia Jancso and Chelsea Silvers knocked in two consecutive goals to give USC a three goal lead. The lead would eventually increase to four goals in the fourth quarter, and by the time UCLA score two goals in the closing minutes, it was too little, too late. USC won the match 12-10, with Vavic and Jancso each scoring four goals.
Stanford has faced USC twice this season, and the Women of Troy have lost both matches. The first was at an invitational tournament held by Stanford, where the Farm won 8-7. Later, in the regular season, Stanford pulled out an overtime victory by a score of 9-8. Now the Cardinal and Women of Troy face off one more time for the NCAA title at San Diego State University, and they will do it in the very same pool where they faced off in the 2010 final, when USC won 10-9.
Can USC win its third NCAA women's water polo championship and its second in three years? Find out at 5:15 PM on NCAA.com. This is our game thread.