After a devastating loss to crosstown rival UCLA last Wednesday, the USC women’s water polo team is back in the pool today, playing an exhibition match against the USA Women’s Junior National Team.
A home loss to the No. 3 Bruins will likely bump the second-ranked Women of Troy (22-2, 5-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) down at least one spot when the next NCAA rankings are released. Luckily, USC will be able to use today’s contest as a tune-up during a break in its schedule before the MPSF Tournament begins at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatic Center this Friday.
The exhibition will be a unique outing for USC juniors Eike Daube and Monica Vavic, who represent the United States on the Junior National Team in the offseason. Vavic, daughter of head coach Jovan Vavic, leads the Women of Troy in goals this season with 59. Daube ranks third on the team with 36. Daube and Vavic also play for the Coastal Water Polo Club, along with many other members of the Junior National Team.
There will be a sense of familiarity in the air at Uytengsu Aquatic Center this afternoon, as a number of USC’s MPSF opponents will visit as part of the Junior National Team. Mackenzie Barr, Emily Donohoe, Rachel Fattal, Kodi Hill and Alice Williams of UCLA are members of Team USA, while players from Stanford, Cal and UC Irvine will also compete for the Junior National Team.
Overall, 12 of the 15 members of the Junior National Team are currently enrolled at MPSF schools. Even the team’s head coach, former Olympic water polo player Dan Klatt, is in his eighth season as the head coach at UC Irvine.
The Junior National Team’s most recent international game was last August in Volos, Greece, when the squad outlasted Spain to win the International Swimming Federation’s Junior World Championship. Vavic made her mark in that tournament by scoring the opening goal in the United States’ semifinal win over Greece.
The exhibition game kicks off today at 4:30 p.m. at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatic Center.
USC returns to NCAA action this Friday in the first round of the MPSF tournament against the No. 4 Arizona State Sun Devils.