Women of Troy host Hartwick College

As spring break comes to an end, people enjoy being able to share stories of places they’ve traveled to and fun activities they did. The USC women’s water polo team will not find it hard to join the conversation as the No. 1 Women of Troy (18-0, 4-0) had a successful three-game road campaign that landed them in Honolulu last week.

The Women of Troy asserted their dominance over three powerhouse opponents in a brief two-day stint. In the first day of action, the squad posted a 15-5 victory over No. 14 Indiana. Despite a varied collection of offensive production led by freshman driver Stephania Haralabidis’ hat trick, it was the team’s stiff defense that propelled the conquest. In the rout, USC held the Hoosiers scoreless for more than 16 minutes spanning from the second quarter to the final period, helping them build an insurmountable lead.

Anchoring the terrific USC defense was reigning Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week and senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who accounted for 12 saves in the triumph.

“She’s definitely someone you can count on. Hearing her voice in the cage directing and telling you what to do makes things a bit easier,” said senior driver Olivia Cummins. “Knowing that we have a great goalie as our final line of defense gives us great confidence as a defender.”

Saturday’s agenda was a bit more crowded, featuring a day-night double-header. Still, the Women of Troy remained poised and handled business as usual. In the day’s opening 12-3 throttling of No. 12 Long Beach State, three different Trojans recorded hat tricks capped off by junior two-meter Eike Daube’s fourth-quarter excellence.

After an intense meeting with the 49ers to begin the day, the Women of Troy did not let fatigue set in and wasted no time jumping on host Hawai’i. The Cardinal and Gold registered the first 10 goals of the contest before allowing the Rainbow Wahine to squeak one through just before halftime. Two different USC players tallied first-half hat tricks, including junior driver Monica Vavic’s second of the trip. After totaling six saves through the first three quarters, Bolonyai was relieved by sophomore goalie Alegra Hueso, who finished off a 14-6 victory for the Women of Troy.

“We put in a lot of work during the week so it was building off the momentum of things that we’ve learned, what we’ve been practicing, and applying it to the game,” said senior two-meter and captain Maddie Rosenthal. “After a really hard week of practicing, you want to prove that you can apply the new stuff that you’ve learned.”

Creating big leads has been a common occurrence in the early stages of the season for USC, opening the door for many underclassmen to gain invaluable in-game experience and display the depth of USC’s talent.

“I love being able to get a lead and have the young girls get in and show the coaches and us what they’ve been working for. Everyone is competing,” Cummins said. “We are on a team but everyone is competing for playing time. I love when everyone is able to get a chance to get in and show how hard they’ve been working.”

Vavic’s performance over the course of the tropical trip earned her a third career MPSF Player of the Week award, her first of the season. USC’s No. 8 all-time leading scorer registered nine total goals over the three-game span and is just five goals away from climbing another spot in USC’s record book.

The standout junior will be able to continue her pursuit tomorrow afternoon as the Hartwick Hawks (15-8) make the trip to challenge the unbeaten Women of Troy at home in the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

Though they have just returned from a lengthy road trip facing three top-tier opponents, the Women of Troy are focused and ready to do what it takes to continue their success in the pool.

“We start preparing at the beginning of the season for every team,” Cummins said. “We are definitely going to study their players, know their best shooters, their drivers, two-meters, defenders and take it like every other game.”

The Women of Troy are not the only hot team entering the contest and need to account for a hot Hartwick squad. The Hawks enter the game having won six of their past seven games, including an impressive 15-12 road victory over No. 8 Loyola Marymount.

Cummins and the Women of Troy put their unblemished record on the line with game time slated for 5:00 p.m on Thursday.