In the midst of an outstanding run spanning over 100 years for athletic excellence, USC Athletics will begin Spring Championship Season within suitable reach of quite the historical achievement across plenty of playing fields.
USC Men's Water Polo pushed the Trojans one step closer towards the historic achievement, defeating Pacific to secure Team National Championship No. 99. So with plenty of national seedings now released, many heralded programs will get their chance to bring home even more hardware to the newly remodeled Heritage Hall.
Especially this upcoming month when Sand Volleyball (Considered AVCA and not NCAA for this season), Men's and Women's Tennis, Women's Lacrosse, Men's/Women's Golf and Women's Water Polo gear up for championship stretches, the Trojans are ready to hit the ground running as the calendar rolls forward into winning season.
Men's Golf: The upstart Men's Golf program outlasted the expected favorites UCLA, finishing 5th at the Pac-12 Championships. Led by Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Rico Hoey, Anthony Paolucci, who was selected to the second team while senior Jeffrey Kang and juniors Paul Smith and Eric Sugimoto earned conference honorable mention honors, the Trojans prepare for the NCAA Regionals starting May 15th in location TBD.
Women's Golf: The defending national champions return all key contributors from last season, and enter NCAA play with much to prove after dropping the Pac-12 Championships to Stanford. USC will rely heavily upon its five women lineup, featuring National Player of the Year Annie Park and Pac-12 Scholar Athlete Sophia Popov. During an impressive season where they set the school record by winning eight tournament events, USC would love to cap it off as the overall champs.
Women's Sand Volleyball: While not competing for an NCAA Championship, top-ranked USC Sand Volleyball (22-1) wants to build upon an impressive opening season (3rd overall last year) in quest for the final crown. In the midst of a 21-game winning streak, USC will face the winner of Hawaii (who they beat 3-2 this season) and Florida International University Friday from Gulf Shores, Alabama. This powerful tournament, which features the best talent for the nation's fastest-growing collegiate sport, will be fantastic competition all weekend long.
Men's Tennis: The top-ranked Trojans enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed overall, avoiding Pac-12 Tournament Champions UCLA and Ohio State (who beat USC, 4-1 this season) until the possible National Championship. USC has now made the tournament for the 8th-straight season, and have won four of the past five championships under stellar head coach Peter Smith. The Trojans will open tournament play hosting Idaho, and then the Michigan/Oklahoma State winner next weekend (May 10-11) from Marks Tennis Stadium right on USC's campus.
Women's Tennis: The Women of Troy may be undermanned after losing their best player, junior Sabrina Santamaria earlier this season, but the resilient squad can't wait to battle it out in the NCAA's. In traditional collegiate tennis fashion, USC will host both Idaho Men's and Women's Tennis for the first round (shared head coaches) starting next weekend. USC will rely heavily on Pac-12 doubles champions Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos for some early match momentum and can also lean on freshman Zoe Katz and Pac-12 Singles runner up Zoe Scandalis in singles play.
Women's Water Polo: The defending national champions will look to defend home turf at Uytengsu Aquatics Center as hosts for the 2014 National Championships. As the No. 3 overall seed, USC will face UC Irvine next Friday before possibly tackling UCLA and then No. 1 Stanford in what would be a repeat of last year's thrilling championship. The Women of Troy are led by seven All-MPSF performers, including 3x-winner Monica Vavic and USC's all-time saves leader Flora Bolonyai along with excellent scorer in senior Kaleigh Gilchrist.
Congrats!! RT "@USCWaterPolo: 7 Women of Troy earn All-MPSF Honors! Gilchrist, Vavic, Bolonyai, Mendoza, Rosenthal, Daube, S.Haralabidis."— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) April 30, 2014
Best of luck to all the Trojans, we certainly can't wait to watch your respective postseason's unfold. Just to handicap some odds though, expect Men's Tennis, Women's Golf and Sand Volleyball to have the best chances of finishing the year as National Champions, or at least among the final two-to-three squads competing for the crown.