The Women of Troy close out the regular season today in their last home match of the year, a nonconference matchup against Cal State Bakersfield, before heading into postseason play as the No. 3 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference tournament.
The No. 3 women’s water polo team will have to try and claim victory against the Roadrunners without starting sophomore goalkeeper Flora Bolonyai, who’s currently competing for her home country of Hungary in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Italy.
That means senior goalie Morgan Vickers will get her first start of the season against the Roadrunners (22-15).
Vickers doesn’t lack experience, though: Before transferring to USC, she was the starting goalie for UC Irvine for two years, and this year, she has regularly assisted Bolonyai.
“I’m just looking forward to having fun,” Vickers said. “I’m not really getting nervous because I have done it before. I’ve played in big games. It’s fun.”
Sophomore two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist, USC’s leading scorer, doesn’t think the Women of Troy’s defense will slip against the Roadrunners with Vickers subbing for Bolonyai between the posts.
“We’re excited to have Morgan in the cage starting,” Gilchrist said. “It’ll be her last home game, so I think she’s really excited and she’ll have a good game.”
Today’s match is USC’s first in almost two weeks, and Vickers says they’ve been using that time to prepare for the MPSF tournament and that the match against the Roadrunners should only help.
“Tomorrow is a good warm-up for going into the MPSF tournament,” Vickers said. “Games are a good opportunity to learn the things that you still need to fix. We just want to make sure everything is perfect by the time we get up to Stanford for the MPSF [tournament].”
The Roadrunners boast junior two-meter Jessica Browning as their leading scorer with 72 goals, and like USC, are locked in as the No. 3 seed in their conference tournament next weekend.
The Women of Troy are 4-0 all-time against Cal State Bakersfield, with their last meeting in 2010 resulting in an 18-4 USC victory.
“We just have to stop their top players, play good defense and finish our opportunities on offense,” Gilchrist said. “We’re excited to play a game since it’s been so long. … I think we’re well-rested and ready to go.”