USC water polo returns to Los Angeles for two games

After a month and a half of tournaments and invitationals, the Women of Troy will come back to the confines of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center to face a pair of top 10 teams. Getting back into action after more than a week’s worth of rest, the Trojans will face off against No. 8 UC Irvine on Wednesday and No. 5 Hawai’i the following day.

Senior season · Senior utility player Annika Jensen has scored 13 goals in her 2018 season. Last season, she tallied a total of 18 goals. Emily Smith | Daily Trojan

USC has been very successful so far this season, winning 10 of 11 games including top 10 wins against UCLA, Cal and Arizona State. Additionally, the Trojans have racked up double-digit goal totals in six of those matches — maxing out at 21 goals in an early match against Pomona in the Cal Baptist Mini Invitational. Early success has moved the team up a spot in the national rankings and they now stand as the No. 2 women’s water polo team in the nation.

With that being said, the Women of Troy are coming off of their first loss this season. A 9-3 defeat at the hands of top-ranked Stanford marked the Trojans’ first slip-up in what had been an incredibly successful campaign for USC.

Thankfully, the squad has several favorable assets. First, the water polo season is long and the Trojans will have plenty more games to play and challenges to overcome as 2018 wears on. Furthermore, USC will be able to prove themselves against elite talent this week with the duo of highly ranked teams they are set to take on.

The Trojans have already defeated UC Irvine once this season after a 7-5 victory over the Anteaters during the Triton Invitational in Feb. 10-11. In that match, Irvine freshman standout Tara Prentice notched two of her team-leading 20 season goals. Prentice, along with senior attacker Allie Loomis will provide a strong challenge for the Trojan defense.

While USC hasn’t played against the Rainbow Warriors yet this season, the squad saw their fair share of the Hawai’i team a year ago. Playing against each other three times throughout the 2017 campaign, the Trojans won all three matches. At margins of 13-8, 12-5 and 9-8, USC pulled out wins both in California and Hawai’i. This season, Hawai’i has started off hot with a 12-2 record landing them a spot in the top five in the NCAA rankings.

On the Trojan side, freshman driver Paige Hauschild and senior utility player Annika Jensen look to continue their scoring runs. Hauschild, the Team USA star prodigy, picked up 7 goals over four games in the weekend tourney while the senior leader Jensen scored 8 of her own.

Both players pulled out crucial performances in the team’s last outing at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational and will be critical to the Trojans’ chances this week as well.

In net, USC will likely continue to alternate goaltenders as they have all season long. With senior netminder Victória Chamorro and junior standout Amanda Longan essentially splitting time in net, both should contribute to the team’s effort once again this week. Despite being the goalie in the lineup for the team’s sole loss this season, Longan has managed to play incredibly sharp this season, highlighted by early shutouts against Loyola Marymount and California Baptist.

Both games will begin at 5 p.m. at  the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Wednesday against UC Irvine and Thursday against Hawai’i.