The USC women’s water polo team has turned away just about every opponent it has encountered this season.
In early-season revenge match against UCLA in the consolation final of the Stanford Invitational the Women of Troy dominated and earned a 13-3 win. In a UC Irvine Invitational championship matchup with then-No. 1 Stanford, the only team to beat USC this season — the Women of Troy (17-1, 4-0) came out firing in the first half and won 10-6.
It’s no surprise then that USC’s latest challenge wasn’t much of a challenge at all, as the Women of Troy dispatched two to McDonald’s Swim Stadium visitors on Saturday with ease, topping No. 19 Cal State Bakersfield and No. 10 Cal State Northridge, 18-4 and 18-6.
The 18 goals were a season-high. Junior driver Joelle Bekhazi led USC in the doubleheader, scoring a career-high four goals in each match, and junior two-meter Kristen Dronberger scored a career-high five against CSUN.
Senior goalie Tumua Anae totaled 20 saves while net-minding on the day. Anae extended her streak of double-digit save performances to nine consecutive matches. In the early game against Cal State Bakersfield, senior Kami Craig scored three goals in the first period to stake the Women of Troy out to an early 7-1 lead.
USC allowed just one goal in each period to the Roadrunners (13-17), taking a 13-2 lead at the half before closing out the game in the final two periods.
Against the Matadors (21-6), who entered the contest on a 10-match winning streak spanning more than a month, the Women of Troy had a tougher time.
Solid defense from Matador goalie Jillian Stapf helped CSUN challenge USC early on, as the Matadors come as close as 5-4 midway through the second period. But the Women of Troy took control of the match from there, responding with an 8-0 run. Bekhazi, who leads the team with 28 goals, and Dronberger, who has 12, each had a pair of goals during the spurt.
Ten Women of Troy players scored against Bakersfield, and freshman driver Constance Hiller put in her second goal of the season against Northridge to give USC 11 scorers for the day.
USC returns to the pool Saturday at Arizona State before a marquee matchup with UCLA at home on April 17.