USC Women’s Water Polo Finishes Fourth At MPSF Tournament

Courtesy: USC Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, IND. — The No. 5 USC women’s water polo team finished fourth at the MPSF Tournament after taking a tight 12-11 loss to No. 4 Stanford in today’s third-place game in Bloomington, Ind. Now 18-8 overall, the Trojans await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket, taking place tomorrow (April 29).

USC had a powerful start to the game, controlling things on both ends of the pool and rattling off four straight goals. Rachel Gazzaniga lit the fuse with a bar-in blast to net a 2-1 lead for the Trojans, and then fellow freshman Ava Stryker faked and fired for a 3-1 lead that held through the end of the first. Stryker kept things clicking for the Trojans with her third goal of the day, and then Abigail Hendrix sailed in a sweet one to get USC ahead 5-1. Stanford managed a couple close-range goals around two 6-on-5 strikes from Hannah Meyer and Julia Janov, and it was a 7-3 USC lead at halftime.

The Cardinal capitalized with a nearside goal to open the second half, only to see Alejandra Aznar blaze in a no-look backhand and then finish off a counterattack to take the Trojans ahead 9-4. Stanford would hit its stride soon after, however, scoring three straight to get within two. Stryker interrupted things with a rebound and savvy finish to make it 10-7, and then Stanford scored another three in a row to level things 10-10 entering the fourth. Gazzaniga got USC up on a 6-on-5 a couple minutes in, and Aznar found Stryker for her fifth goal of the day to nudge the Trojans back on top with an 11-10 advantage. Stanford would equalize again at 5:44, and later got a fortunate goal to go in on a power play to lead it 12-11 with 2:57 remaining. Try as they may, the Trojans were unable to bring things even to force an overtime opportunity.

USC now awaits the announcement of the 2024 NCAA Tournament field, which will be released Monday (April 29) at 5 p.m. on

– With a game-high five goals today, FR Ava Stryker tied her career high.
– With her two goals today, SR Alejandra Aznar now has 143 career goals to rank No. 18 all-time at USC in scoring.
– With her goal today, SR Julia Janov continues to lead the team with goals scored in 23 different games this season.

[3] Stanford 12, [4] USC 11
Friday, April 26 | Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center (Bloomington, Ind.)
USC   3 – 4 – 3 – 1 = 11
STAN  1 – 2 – 7 – 2 = 12

USC — Ava Stryker 5, Alejandra Aznar 2, Rachel GazzanigaAbigail HendrixHannah MeyerJulia Janov.
STAN —Christina Hicks 4, Sophia Sanders 4, Eleanor Facey, Kamryn Barone, Sophie Wallace, Celeste Wjinbelt.

SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 6, Maya Avital (STAN) 13.

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