On a day when its starters rode the bench for most of the game, the USC women’s water polo team still managed to cruise to its fifth straight win, an easy 19-5 home victory over No. 19 Hartwick.
Eleven different players scored for No. 3 USC (16-3, 3-1) in the nonconference win over the Hawks (19-8), who had their own three-match win streak snapped.
The relatively short-handed Hawks dressed 11 players -— half of USC’s roster.
“We have a lot of depth,” sophomore two-meter Madeline Rosenthal said. “A lot of times it’s intimidating for other teams. It also keeps us fresh and lets us be stronger toward the ends of games.”
Junior two-meter Patricia Jancso led the Women of Troy with four goals, including a buzzer-beater from half-court.
Junior driver Chelsea Silvers tied a career high with three goals, and sophomore two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist also recorded a hat trick.
“It was pretty cool, but I wasn’t really focused on scoring,” Silvers said. “It’s more about finishing opportunities as a team. … When you have the opportunity, take it, but don’t be a ballhog.”
After the Women of Troy jumped out to a 4-1 lead near the end of the first quarter, USC coach Jovan Vavic subbed in more of his seldom-used players, who played most of the match against Hartwick and held strong.
“It’s always great when everyone gets some playing time,” Rosenthal said. “Not a lot of teams can put six girls in with a new wave [of substitutions].”
After Rosenthal and junior driver Dominique Sardo commenced the scoring, Hartwick cut the deficit to 2-1 on a strike from Jemma Dendy Young.
It was the only score that sophomore goalkeeper Flora Bolonyai would concede for the Women of Troy -— from there, USC went on a 9-0 run that spanned over halftime.
“We were just trying to execute the half-court offense that we’ve been practicing,” Rosenthal said. “Everyone has had a lot of practice with that [set].”
It showed. The Women of Troy scored five goals each in the second, third and fourth periods.
After collecting four saves in the first half, Bolonyai gave way to senior goalkeeper Morgan Vickers, who kept up solid defense in the third quarter.
Heading into the final period, USC held a dominating 14-2 lead.
“This program prides itself a lot on its defense, and knowing the system, and executing what the coaches tell us,” Silvers said. “If we execute what we’re supposed to do, then it leads to good things.”
USC’s defense started to slip a little in the fourth quarter, causing coach Vavic to yell, “We aren’t playing defense!” just as Hartwick scored early in the period to make the score 14-3.
Vickers let up two more goals in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks never made a run, as the Women of Troy responded to every Hartwick goal with a score of their own.
The Women of Troy will now prepare for their crucial home match on Saturday against No. 5 California (16-5, 3-1) at 1 p.m. at McDonald’s Swim Stadium.
Though it is not the team’s last home game, the squad’s three seniors — Nadia Dan, Kara-Leigh Huse and Vickers — will be honored in a pregame ceremony for Senior Day.