Courtesy: Stanford Athletics
IRVINE, Calif. – Sophie Wallace’s goal with 10 seconds left powered No. 1 Stanford to an 11-10 victory over No. 2 USC on Sunday afternoon in the Barbara Kalbus Invitational final.
The highly-anticipated contest – a rematch of the 2022 NCAA championship which Stanford won 10-7 – lived up to the hype, with very little separating the nation’s only two remaining unbeaten programs.
Stanford (12-0) repeated as Barbara Kalbus Invitational champions and captured its sixth tournament crown overall. The Cardinal has also won four of its last five meetings against USC (12-1) dating back to last season.
Jenna Flynn, already one of Stanford’s top offensive threats as a rookie, produced her most impressive performance of the season with game-high totals in goals (5) and shots (7) while dishing out two assists.
Ryann Neushul matched her career high of four goals, scoring three in the first half before adding a clutch penalty shot with two minutes remaining and USC in front 10-8.
Stanford, which owned a 29-25 shot advantage despite finishing 1-of-10 on the power play, enjoyed a two-goal lead twice in the first period before USC scored three in a row to take its first lead at 5-4 with 6:30 before intermission.
Neushul’s third goal of the first half gave Stanford a 6-5 lead at the break.
Aria Fischer found the cage for her only goal of the game at the 6:05 mark of the fourth period. Fischer now has 185 career goals, ranking eighth on Stanford’s all-time scoring list and two behind Margie Dingeldein (1999-2002) at 187.
Trailing 10-8 with 4:55 left to play, Neushul and Flynn scored 50 seconds apart to even the game.
Jewel Roemer contributed two assists while attempting four shots.
Maya Avital was outstanding down the stretch, denying a USC attempt in the final minute while making eight saves.
Stanford opens MPSF play on Saturday, March 4, at Indiana (10 a.m. PT).
Stanford Goals: Jenna Flynn (5), Ryann Neushul (4), Aria Fischer (1), Sophie Wallace (1).
Courtesy: USC Athletics
IRVINE, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC women’s water polo team fought out of a two-goal hole to lead No. 1 Stanford in the fourth period before the Cardinal caught some breaks to move ahead and get an 11-10 win in today’s championship game at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine. A second-half hat trick from Tilly Kearns and some savvy saves from goalie Carolyne Stern helped key the USC comeback effort before Stanford got the goals it needed to net the win. USC goes to 12-1 overall with its first loss of the year.
USC got behind by two goals out of the gates before working its way back. Down 4-2, Stern put up a wall in the cage with two 6-on-5 stops around a power play goal from Morgan Netherton, and USC was a goal back at 4-3 at the end of the first. The Trojans made a power move next as Kearns earned a 5-meter penalty shot that Bayley Weber put away to lock things even at 4-4. Paige Haushild nabbed a steal next, and soon after Kearns would find Hauschild for a slick tip-in goal that had USC on top for the first time, up 5-4 with 6:30 on the clock in the second period. Stanford answered back, however, getting a 6-on-5 to go and then finishing off an even strike to lead it 6-5 for halftime.
USC went right back to work to kick off the second half, hammering in two goals in the first minute. Weber converted off a 6-on-5 feed from Hauschild to pull USC even, and then Kearns picked off a pass and found the opportunistic finish the other way to lift USC on top 7-6. A defensive stalemate ensued until Stanford was awarded a 5-meter penalty shot and found the finish to level it 7-7 on the way into the fourth. The final frame was a wild one, with the officials’ whistles calling for four penalty shots and five exclusions. Kearns got USC back in the lead with a fine finish out of set, but Stanford evened it with a score at the tail end of a 6-on-5. Kearns’ third goal of the day came on a 5-meter penalty shot for the go-ahead goal, and then Stern came up with one of her 12 saves on the day to snuff another Stanford 6-on-5. Kearns’ efforts at two meters earned another 5-meter for the Trojans, and Weber drilled her third goal of the day to get USC a 10-8 advantage at 4:55. Stern continued to shine in the cage, although she had to face a Stanford 5-meter penalty at 2:01 that cut the margin to one. The Cardinal equalized at 1:11, and then came up with a save against a USC 5-meter penalty try with 44 seconds to go. Knotted at 10-10, Stanford was awarded a late power play and scored as teams were pulling even to get the Cardinal an 11-10 lead with 10 ticks to go. USC got the last shot off, and the ball deflected off the post and floated close to crossing the goal line, but time would expire before the ball was through, and overtime was averted as Stanford emerged with the win.
USC’s next action takes the Trojans to Pomona for competition at the Convergence Tournament, running March 3-4.
– With three goals today, Tilly Kearns leads the team with 10 multiple-goal games this season.
– With three goals today, Bayley Weber has scored in a team-high 11 games this season.
– Weber also moves up to rank No. 12 all-time in career scoring at USC with 173 goals.
– Carolyne Stern’s 12 saves today marks her fourth game this season with double-digit saves.
BARBARA KALBUS INVITATIONAL
#1 Stanford 11, #2 USC 10
Feb. 26, 2023 | Anteater Aquatics Complex (Irvine, Calif.)
USC 3 – 2 – 2 – 3 = 10
STAN 4 – 2 – 1 – 4 = 11
USC — Bayley Weber 3, Tilly Kearns 3, Alejandra Aznar, Paige Hauschild, Julia Janov, Morgan Netherton.
STAN — Jenna Flynn 5, Ryann Neushul 4, Aria Fischer, Sophie Wallace.
SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 12, Maya Avital (STAN) 8.
Love Water Polo – Thanks SS for the reports!