USC can’t hold on against No. 1 Bruins

In their second home match of the season on Saturday afternoon, the No. 3 Women of Troy (11-3, 1-1) fell 6-5 to No. 1 UCLA (13-1, 2-0) after leading 5-4 after three periods. USC led 2-0 after the first period and 4-2 at halftime.

But two consecutive turnovers in just over a minute led to two Bruin goals in the fourth quarter, changing the score from a 5-4 USC lead to a 6-5 deficit.

Blown chances · USC held a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter. UCLA, however, scored twice to seal the game in the closing minutes. - Adrian Hoffman | Daily Trojan

The Bruins didn’t lead until attacker Gisselle Naranjo lobbed a shot into the top left corner of the goal with just under three minutes left to complete the comeback for UCLA.

Sophomore driver Monica Vavic stole the ball with just under a minute left to give the Women of Troy one last chance, and a UCLA foul gave them a power play on their final possession.

But a final shot from junior two-meter Patricia Jancso went wide left, which allowed the Bruins to run out the clock.

“We lost our focus and they didn’t,” said sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai, who had 10 saves in the losing effort. “We have to close out games.”

Vavic and sophomore two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist led USC with two goals, and senior driver Nadia Dan chipped in one.

“We just let too many counterattacks, and little things like that keep getting in our way, and it ended up hurting us in the end,” Gilchrist said. “We needed to get a couple more goals and shut them down, but we couldn’t finish them off.”

But the team remains optimistic about the rest of the season.

“It’s a long season, and it’s still early,” Gilchrist said. “We can take this [loss] and turn it around and hopefully end up on top in the end.”

Saturday’s loss was the second time USC lost against UCLA in as many matches.

At the UC Irvine Invitational last Sunday, the Women of Troy took a 7-5 lead into the fourth period against the Bruins before falling 8-7.

“That was our game to win, and it was all on us that we lost,” Gilchrist said.

USC’s next action comes this week in another home match on Friday against San Diego State at 5 p.m. at McDonald Swim Stadium.