No. 1 Stanford outlasts USC in double overtime

In a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, No. 1 Stanford defeated the No. 3 USC women’s water polo team at McDonald’s Swim Stadium in double overtime Saturday.

With a final score of 9-8, the Cardinal (19-0, 4-0) broke the Women of Troy’s 23-game win streak at home after six intense periods of play.

“Obviously I’m really disappointed and upset that we didn’t come out on top,” said senior driver Joelle Bekhazi. “We worked hard all the way to the end. It was kind of like a roller coaster ride and that’s what we need to fix in the future.”

The Women of Troy (15-4, 3-2) started off the game strong, scoring four goals to Stanford’s one in the first period. Stanford came powering back, however, and the game was tied at six heading into the final quarter of regulation.

Stanford scored two goals quickly to start off the fourth period, but the Women of Troy found a way to tie it up in the last two minutes, as junior driver Nadia Dan scored her third goal of the day and senior two-meter Kristen Dronberger added a last-minute goal to even the score at 7-7.

“The biggest concern we had from them [Stanford] was their counterattack,” said USC coach Jovan Vavic. “They go fast, they anticipate, they get the ball in the hands of dangerous players. If you’re not prepared for that, that’s how they win games. In the first quarter, we did a good job of that, and in the fourth too. But not in the second or third.”

The two teams continued to battle in overtime, until Stanford scored with 1:25 left. But then, with 57 seconds left, the Women of Troy tied the game up once more and forced a second overtime period.

Stanford scored on its first possession of the second overtime, and though the Women of Troy had possession in the last few seconds of the game, their final shot missed and the Cardinal emerged victorious.

“I’m disappointed that we did not win the game,” Vavic said. “There were lots of things that we did well, especially in the first quarter, but then we changed … We had an opportunity to win the game at the end and we missed it.”

The Women of Troy were happy with their defensive play, despite the loss.

“One thing that we have been working on is our 5 on 6 defense and we only let them score 2 out of 11 and that was a great positive that came out,” Bekhazi said. “[In the future] I think our fast break defense will not have any more mental breakdowns and we will not allow any more natural goals.”

Regardless of the outcome, Vavic said he was pleased with the team’s attitude.

“Overall I was very pleased with the energy,” he said. “Even when we did not play well, we were still playing with energy.”