No. 2 USC faces No. 6 Hawai’i in MPSF battle

After playing their first eight matches at neutral sites, the Women of Troy finally get to show what they can do in their home pool.

No. 2 USC (7-1) hosts No. 6 Hawai’i (2-3) in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference clash Thursday at 5 p.m., hoping to continue its six-match winning streak.

“We’re going to have to go out and play really good team defense,” senior All-American driver Nadia Dan said. “We have a lot of depth this year, so we’re going to be playing a lot of girls and hopefully wear them out.”

Nearly every position player on the roster has scored multiple goals for the Women of Troy, with 18 players netting at least two points.

Sophomore two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist has led the offensive onslaught so far, scoring 15 goals, matching her season total from her freshman campaign.

“I haven’t really been thinking about it,” Gilchrist said. “Goals will come. But goals don’t really win national championships, defense does.”

The Women of Troy haven’t been too shabby on defense, either.

Only No. 1 Stanford has managed to net more than six goals on the Women of Troy, who only gave up a total of 12 goals in their four matches at the Lancer Invitational last weekend while mostly resting their starters.

Sophomore All-American goalkeeper Flora Bolonyai works as the fulcrum of the tenacious defense.

“Hands down, I can say Flora’s the best goalie in the nation,” Gilchrist said. “It’s awesome to know that just in case one of us screws up, we have [Bolonyai] in the goal to back us up.”

Bolonyai, who helped her native Hungarian team win the bronze medal at the European Championships last month, is averaging 6.7 saves per game while only allowing 5.1 goals per game.

Bolonyai will try to keep the Rainbow Wahine at bay in Hawai’i’s first match since Feb. 5.

The Rainbow Wahine (2-3) have more losses than wins, but their three losses have come at the hands of either No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 California.

“They had pretty solid games against UCLA and Cal,” Dan said. “They’re a good team, and they have a good goalie.”

Hawai’i goalie Serena Reid is averaging 8.2 saves and 7 goals allowed per game.

The Women of Troy eked out a 5-4 overtime win against Hawai’i last season and currently own an 11-game winning streak over their MPSF rivals.