No. 2 USC Women’s Water Polo Turns To Tournament Play At Triton Invite

by SwimSwam 0

February 02nd, 2023 NCAA/College Water Polo

Courtesy: USC Athletics

THIS WEEK        
USC heads to UC Santa Barbara to open the 14-team tournament. On Friday (Feb. 3), USC kicks things off against Concordia at 1:20 p.m. A win there pushes the Trojans up against either UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine at 11:40 am. on Saturday (Feb. 4) to fight for a spot in a 3:40 p.m. semifinal that day. Placement games run on Sunday (Feb. 5), culminating in a 1:30 p.m. championship game at Triton Pool.

USC picked up the No. 2 ranking in the nation to open 2023, mirroring the Trojans’ 2022 finish. As of the latest round of national rankings (released Feb. 1), USC still sits at No. 2 in the land.

USC finished second at last year’s Triton Invitational, having beaten UC Santa Barbara 10-4 and Long Beach State 17-6 during group play. In the 2022 semifinals, USC topped Hawai’i 9-7 to move into the final, where the Trojans fell to UCLA 11-10. This year’s Triton Invitational features 14 teams, including six ranked in the nation’s top-10 — No. 2 USC, No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Hawai’i, No. 7 Long Beach State, No. 8 Fresno State and No. 9 UC Irvine.

USC whipped up four well-balanced effort to open 2023 on a winning note in action at the Lancer Joust. On opening day, the Trojans saw 15 different Trojans score goals and three USC goalies in the water as USC beat No. 19 Pacific 16-6 and Biola 20-6 at Lancer Aquatic Center. I another double day of play on Saturday, USC gained two more solid wins, wrapping action at the Lancer Joust with a 17-7 victory over No. 8 Long Beach State and a 16-6 win over host California Baptist. It was another day of widespread scoring and effective defense by the Trojans, who played all four goalies across the two wins, with senior Carolyne Stern making her mark with a career-high 16 saves in the win over the Beach.
USC 16, #19 Pacific 6
USC earned an early 3-0 lead on the Tigers with goals from Paige HauschildIsabel Zimmerman and Julia Janov, but in the second half Pacific was able to draw even at 6-6 during the third. The Trojans responded with a four-goal outburst, with Alejandra Aznar striking twice, Mireia Guiral issuing a blast and Tilly Kearns letting one fly to net a 10-6 lead for USC. The Trojans would keep the Tigers quiet throughout USC’s rally, taking that advantage into the fourth. The hits kept coming for the Trojans as they found their groove, extending the surge to 10 straight scores thanks to three apiece from Bayley Weber and Paige Hauschild, and USC was enjoying a 16-6 lead with 2:11 to go in the game. As USC’s defense continued to deter the Tigers, the Trojans emerged with the resounding win after holding Pacific scoreless for the last 10 minutes of action.
USC 20, Biola 6
USC made it a total team effort in the next bout, getting 13 Trojans in on the scoring action while two goalies made their USC debuts in the cage to help key a 20-6 win over Biola. USC scored the first six goals of that one, with newcomer Fanni Musznay plugging in her first goal as a Trojan in that opening rally. By the final buzzer, three other Trojans had registered their first career goals at USC. Freshman Maggie Johnson led the pack with three, with Molly Glad adding two and Alex Bonaguidi tallying one along the way. Redshirt freshman goalies Laine Hourigan and Sofia Stein split time in the cage to back up the USC effort, each making their first saves as Trojans today.
USC 17, #8 Long Beach State 7
USC’s  morning matchup against Long Beach State saw a slow start before the Trojans broke things open, turning a 2-1 margin into a 10-goal victory as USC’s offense clicked off goal after goal while the defense kept the Beach at bay. Stern was the wall in the cage for the duration, and nine different Trojans scored at the opposite end. Paige Hauschild and Tilly Kearns combined for seven of USC’s 17 in that one, and freshman Morgan Netherton notched her first goal as a Trojan in the victory.
USC 16, CBU 6
The afternoon game featured several more firsts for the USC roster. Freshman goalie Jada Ward capped up for her first time in the cage, making two saves in her two periods of work against California Baptist. USC got 10 Trojans on the scoresheet in the 16-6 win, with redshirt freshman Sally McCarthy sailing in her first goal as a Trojan to tally USC’s final goal at the Lancer Joust.

BY THE NUMBERS            
Just four games deep into 2023, USC’s balanced scoring charge is led by senior Paige Hauschild and sophomore Isabel Zimmerman with 9 and 8 goals, respectively. In all, 20 Trojans have scored at least one goal to date, including six with their first goals as Trojans. Defensively, all four USC goalies have factored into the 4-0 start, led by senior Carolyne Stern. Stern is averaging 13.5 saves per game thanks in part to a career-high 16 saves made against Long Beach State on Jan. 28. USC’s other three goalies — Laine HouriganSofia Stein and Jada Ward — are in their first season of action as Trojans. Overall, the group averages 9.5 saves per game to anchor a Trojan defense giving up just 6.25 goals per game. USC has outscored opponents 69-25 so far, while holding teams scoreless in four different periods to date.

ON THE RISE            
With her work at the Lancer Joust, senior Paige Hauschild has climbed to rank No. 11 all-time in scoring at USC with 173 career goals to date. Several more veteran Trojans are also on the climb. Bayley Weber ranks No. 15 with 149 career goals, and Grace Tehaney sits at No. 24 with 125 to her name. Meanwhile, Mireia Guiral is on the rise with 102 career goals, and Tilly Kearns is on the brink joining the 100-goal club at USC with her current tally of 99. On the defensive end, senior goalie Carolyne Stern ranks No. 9 all-time among USC goalies with her 220 career saves, and counting.

USC’s 2023 captains are a decorated pair. Both 2020 Olympians, Paige Haushild and Tilly Kearns are the experienced backbone of the Trojan roster once again. Kearns finished the 2022 season at the top of the scoring leaderboard with 64 goals – 10th most scored in a single season in program history – and as a Peter J. Cutino Award finalist. The Aussie Olympian earned spots on the 2022 NCAA All-Tournament First Team, the MPSF All-Tournament Team and All-MPSF First Team for her work at two-meters. Olympic gold medalist Hauschild collected 47 goals of her own last season while applying pressure on both sides of the pool. Hauschild was a freshman when USC won the NCAA Championship in 2018, although both she and Kearns were away training with their respective Olympic teams when the Trojans last won it all in 2021. Hauschild and Kearns are two of seven returning All-Americans on the 2023 USC roster, alongside Alejandra AznarMireia GuiralCarolyne SternGrace Tehaney and Bayley Weber.

MORE VETS            
In all, USC returns 13 members of its 16-member roster from the 2022 NCAA Tournament. In addition to its seven All-Americans, experienced depth returns in the form of seniors Téa Poljak, Claire HaasBrooklyn Aguilera and Christina Crum, along with junior Julia Janov and sophomores Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea  and Isabel Zimmerman..

YOUNG GUNS            
USC’s newest additions come from an array of the best talent in the world, including U.S. pipeline members Morgan Netherton and Maggie Johnson. The Trojans also have added Fresno State transfer Fanni Muzsnay, who also has international experience as a member of the Hungarian National Team. Freshman Alex Bonaguidi is tabbed for duty at center, joined by redshirt sophomore Hannah Meyer, who sat out last season due to injury.

LAST SEASON            
In 2022, USC posted a 20-4 overall record while making an 18th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans went a perfect 6-0 in MPSF competition before taking second in the MPSF Tournament and reaching a fourth consecutive NCAA final. USC had beaten Fresno State 15-9 in the quarterfinals and then topped Cal 9-7 in the semis to face Stanford in the title match, falling 10-7 to the Cardinal. At the close of the season, Tilly Kearns was selected as a finalist for the Peter J. Cutino Award and was a First Team All-American along with Paige Hauschild. They were joined by fellow All-Americans Bayley Weber (Second Team), Carolyne Stern (Third Team), Mireia Guiral (Honorable Mention) and Grace Tehaney (Honorable Mention). Head coach Marko Pintaric was named MPSF Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments