After winning at a preseason tournament and losing during the regular season, the USC women's water polo team claimed a decisive victory in their third meeting with the Stanford Cardinal and in doing so claimed the MPSF championship and the top seed in the NCAA tournament.
After defeating Cal State Bakersfield and Arizona State to reach the final, USC found themselves facing the only team to have bested them this season. USC lost to Stanford at home two weeks ago by a score of 6-4. It was their worst offensive performance of the season, but this past Sunday, the Women of Troy would not allow the Farm to stop them again.
In the first quarter, it was all USC, as they scored five unanswered goals to take a stranglehold of the lead. Stanford would not get on the board until they scored a penalty shot early in the second period. In the third period, USC's lead grew to seven goals before Stanford attempted to rally back with three goals of their own. Strong defense from the field and solid goalkeeping from Flora Bolonyai helped seal an 11-7 victory.
Australian junior Hannah Buckling led scoring with four goals, including one in the first quarter barrage. Bolonyai made nine saves. Team scoring leader Monica Vavic scored three in the final and nine in the tournament, increasing her career total to 110 goals.
USC will now compete at the NCAA championships at Harvard on May 10, where they will face Pomona-Pitzer in the quarterfinals. Having the top seed is a big advantage for SC, as a victory over the Sagehens will give them a semifinal against either Hawaii or UCSD. Stanford, on the other hand, will likely have to go through UCLA in order to get to the final.