After a year and a half of winning, the Trojans’ streak is officially over.
The No. 1 women’s water polo team brought a record-breaking 52-game win streak into their game against No. 2 Stanford on Saturday. But the Cardinal came out swinging and never let up, holding on to an early lead to break the Trojans’ streak in a 12-8 final.
From the start, Stanford took advantage of every opportunity for a mismatch on offense. The Cardinals scored off their first 6-on-5 power play, then quickly stretched out to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter. With the Trojans on their heels, Stanford found the pulse of play and kept a hold ontheir lead through smothering defense.
The Trojans found some success in the second quarter, attacking the net to bring the deficit back to only two goals at the end of the half. That momentum carried into the second half with senior Ioanna Haralabidis slotting a shot into the top right corner of the Stanford goal to bring the Stanford lead to 7-6.
But from there, the Cardinal clamped down on defense, showing a new defensive structure with two defenders closely flanking the goalkeeper to efficiently block any chance at a USC attack. Meanwhile, the Stanford offense found quick rhythm and jumped ahead to a 12-6 lead. Although the Trojans were able to find the back of the net two more times when Stanford rotated in younger players, it was simply too little, too late for the top-ranked team.
Now, the Trojans fall to No. 3 in the Pac-12 standings. The team didn’t lose for the entirety of the 2016 calendar year, including last year’s NCAA championship title game. The 52-game streak was the longest in NCAA women’s water polo history, beating out the previous record set by UCLA from 2007 to 2009.
The team will return to face off against Cal next weekend in search of redemption for Saturday’s rare loss.