The No. 4 USC women’s water polo team finished regular season play Saturday, sending its four seniors out with a 13-10 win, and snapping No. 7 San Jose State’s four-game winning streak.
Senior two-meter Kristen Dronberger registered a hat trick in her final home match. Senior driver Joelle Bekhazi also had two goals, as did junior driver Nadia Dan and freshman two-meter Madeline Rosenthal.
USC struggled offensively in the first half, although its defense held strong. The Women of Troy limited the Spartans (20-10, 2-4) to just one goal in the second period, leaving the score tied 5-5 at halftime.
USC started the third period strong and never looked back.
Sophomore two-meter Patricia Jancso, Rosenthal, sophomore driver Blair Moody, senior two-meter Sarah Van Norman and junior two-meter Kara-Leigh Huse all registered goals before San Jose State could score their first goal of the period.
In general, the team was pleased with the final score and its performance.
“I thought that we just coming at them,” Dronberger said. “The offense kept going and going. We didn’t play the best defense but there are things that we can improve on all the time … We really, really played to our benefit”
USC coach Jovan Vavic was also happy with the team’s success, especially given its past losses this season to Stanford and UCLA.
“We did a good job in the areas with our set up plays, to set up an offensive attack,” Vavic said. “Six-on-5 was better than our last few games and we scored more percentage-wise than the last few games. We just have to defend better.”
The game was delayed 15 minutes because the scoreboard at McDonald’s Swim Stadium faced technical difficulties, and officials eventually decided to begin the game with a dysfunctional scoreboard. The, players, however, were not fazed.
“If anything [the scoreboard being broken] was helping us focus on the game and not worry about the scoreboard,” Bekhazi said. “It really helped us stay in the game.”
With the regular season complete, the Women of Troy will focus on the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, slated to begin April 29. Heading into the tournament, the team will be ranked as a No. 5 seed.
“Like every single team that goes into this home stretch of the season, we only have one thing on our minds and that is to win it all,” Dronberger said. “We are going to have a tough couple weeks of training coming up before tournament play and we just need to put our nose to the grindstone and work as hard as we possibly can.”