LOS ANGELES — USC’s No. 1 women’s water polo team put on a winning show in front of an appreciative crowd, beating No. 3 rival ULCA 9-7 at Uytengsu Aquatics Center today to complete the undefeated MPSF action and score first seed in upcoming conference tournament The Trojans have never trailed in this one, scoring key goals to keep the Bruins at bay in USC’s home waters. USC improves to 17-2 overall and grabs a 6-0 mark in MPSF play.
It was an all-around effort from the Trojans, who had six different scorers as well as savvy defensive plays to thwart the Bruins along the way. Goalie Caroline Stern made a 5-yard penalty block and snuffed out a dangerous UCLA counterattack opportunity to keep its Trojans in stride. Paige Hauschild and Mireia Guiral the two scored their second of the day in the fourth period, and a final save from Stern sealed the win for USC.
The game opened with a real rivalry, with USC hitting a scorching backhand shot first from Tilly Kearn two meters. UCLA quickly leveled him with a ranged score. Hauschild then had the answer, pulling the Trojans ahead 2-1. That lead would last four minutes until UCLA found an equalizer, and it was tied 2-2 entering the second frame. There, USC made its move. Another help from Alejandra Aznar fed Grace Tehaney for a laser, the raised USC leads 3-2. Stern stepped up for the save against a 5-yard UCLA next, then Tehaney returned the favor to his left compatriot as Aznar buried one to make it 4-2. Thirty seconds later, UCLA picked one up. A Bayley Weber pitch block upset a UCLA power play, Weber caught a steal, drew a shutout and then saw the sophomore Julia Janov convert with a blast that gave USC a 5-3 halftime win.
The Trojans should continue to hold off the Bruins in the next period. UCLA fell to less than one at 5-4 and 6-5, only to see Mireia Guiral and Sophie Lucas each hammer scores big to bring USC back to a two-goal lead. With 3:20 left in the third, UCLA completed its sixth of 11 power-play chances in the game to make it 7-6. Stern came in huge on a 1-on-1 stoppage entering the final minute of the third, and it would be 7-6 going into the fourth. It was there that Hauschild and Guiral scored around a single UCLA 6-on-5 finish. Just before Guiral’s goal to make it 9-7, Tehaney had helped end UCLA’s 11th 6-on-5 chance, putting his fingers on the Bruins’ shot to deflect it off course and send USC the other way.
The top seed in the MPSF tournament, USC earned a first-round bye. The Trojans are hosting the tournament, which runs from April 22-24 at the Uytengsu Aquatic Center. On Saturday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m., USC will face either Cal or Arizona State in the semifinals. The classification matches will take place on Sunday, April 24 and will conclude with the championship match at 2:30 p.m.
#1 USC 9, #3 UCLA 7
April 16, 2022 | Uytengsu Aquatic Center (Los Angeles, CA)
USC 2 – 3 – 2 – 2 = 9
UCLA 2 – 1 – 3 – 1 = 7
USC— Paige Hauschild 2, Mireia Guiral 2, Tilly Kearn, Grace Tehaney, Alejandra Aznar, Sophie Lucas, Julia Janov.
UCLA—Molly Renner 2, Maddie Musselman 2, Bella Wentzel, Ava Johnson, Malia Allen.
SAVE: Caroline Stern (USC) 8, Sydney Chiang (UCLA) 8.