No. 5 USC Women’s Water Polo Captures 8-7 Win Over No. 2 Cal

Courtesy: USC Athletics

LOS ANGELES — The No. 5 USC women’s water polo team made a splash in home waters today with a big 8-7 win over No. 2 California, beating the Golden Bears with a balanced effort that featured some key defensive stands by the Trojans at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Senior goalie Carolyne Stern collected 12 saves in the win, including a series of crucial stops in the fourth frame to help anchor USC’s MPSF win. The Trojans are now 14-4 overall and 1-0 in MPSF play in stretching their win streak agains Cal to 28 straight victories.

USC struck first in this one on a  6-on-5 strike from Julia Janov, but the Bears bit back and too the lead with back-to-back blasts. USC was forced to play catchup, tying it up twice in the first on scores from Ava Stryker. It was knotted at 3-3 after eight minutes of action, and then again it was Cal nudging ahead with an even score a minute into the second. A spicy spin-lob from Maggie Johnson leveled things at 4-4 with 4:12 on the clock, and a stalemate ensued. After a late Stern save, Janov unleashed a long one from deep in Trojan territory, landing the ball in the opposite cage to tug the Trojans ahead 5-4 for halftime.

USC made its move in the third. Hannah Meyer earned a power play for the Trojans and then hammered home the score to make it a 6-4 USC lead. Cal answered back to get one back, but then the Trojans capitalized on two more 6-on-5 opportunities. Janov had her hat trick in place to make it 7-5 , and then Stryker followed suit to make it a three-goal USC advantage at 8-5. Cal struck with just stick to go in the third, and USC would carry an 8-6 lead into the fourth. Cue Stern. The senior goalie served up a series of saves keep the Bears at bay. Cal got it to an 8-7 margin with 2:40 to go, but the USC defense dug back in. Stryker nabbed a key steal and then Stern shut the door on the win with one last save to seal the 8-7 USC win over the No. 2 Bears.

USC has an MPSF road trip to Indiana up next, heading to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday (March 30).

– USC is now 51-14 all-time against Cal in recording the Trojans’ 28th straight win over the Golden Bears today.
– With 12 saves today, SR Carolyne Stern has now recorded five games this season with double-digit saves.
– SR Julia Janov tied her career high with three goals today.
– With three goals today, FR Ava Stryker has now scored at least one goal in USC’s last 12 games.
– Stryker now leads USC in scoring this season with 37.
– With goals today, Stryker and Janov have now each scored in a team-high 16 games this season.

#5 USC 8, #2 Cal 7

March 23, 2024 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC  3 – 2 – 3 – 0 = 8
CAL    3 – 1 – 2 – 1 = 7

USC — Julia Janov 3, Ava Stryker 3, Maggie JohnsonHannah Meyer.
CAL — Maryn Dempsey 3, Maddie DeMattia, Abbi Magee, Feline Voordouw, Rozanne Voorvelt.

SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 12, Isabel Williams (CAL) 9.

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