USC aims to end season on high note

The end of regular season play is nearing for the No. 4 USC women’s water polo team, as it hosts No. 7 San Jose State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The home game is the team’s final contest before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament begins.

Leadership · With a larger number of underclassmen on USC’s roster, senior Joelle Bekhazi has been a stabilizing force for the Women of Troy. - Daily Trojan file photo

Last week, USC (15-5, 3-3) suffered a devastating loss to crosstown rival and then-No. 4 UCLA. It is the first time since 2000 that they have lost three times in MPSF play. Saturday’s outcome will give the Women of Troy either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed heading into the conference tournament.

With 20 wins this season, the visiting Spartans (20-9, 2-3) pose several challenges for the Women of Troy, but they have never won a game against USC, who won last season’s meeting 13-6.

The contest will also be the last home game for four seniors: driver Joelle Bekhazi, two-meter Kristen Dronberger, goalie Courtney Ray and two-meter Sarah Van Norman.

Of the four, Bekhazi and Dronberger have both scored their 100th career goals this season. Bekhazi has 121, while Dronberger has 113. Both are looking to score enough goals in their upcoming matches to make their way into the all time top 10.

“It’s an exciting feeling being a senior and knowing all the accomplishments we’ve done as a team in this pool in front of our families and friends,” Bekhazi said. “It’s also sad to know this will be the last time the seniors will be playing with USC in our own pool, but I’m confident we will go out with a bang.”

USC will rely heavily on its collection of seniors, but a balanced attack has been the team’s calling card this season. Through 20 games, the Women of Troy have had 16 different scorers.

Many of the team’s younger players will be expected to step up again, particularly sophomore two-meter Patricia Jancso and sophomore driver Dominique Sardo, each  of who was instrumental in USC’s NCAA championship run last season. Others, such as freshman two-meter Madeline Rosenthal, will need to make a positive impact as well.