In its first true test of the early 2018 season, the USC women’s water polo squad took down each of its four opponents in the UCSD Triton Invitational in La Jolla over the weekend.
While the Women of Troy had already racked up three impressive wins — the team outscored opponents 59-3, including two shutout wins — on the season heading into this tournament, they knew that this performance would truly set the tone for their 2018 campaign.
“What is the most impressive about this team so far is their unity,” head coach Jovan Vavic said. “Leadership is the key and our captains are leading in and out of the water.”
Through the first day of group play, it was business as usual for USC. Taking down Sonoma State and No. 18 San Diego State 13-1 and 14-2 respectively, the Trojans remained a dominant force just as they had been through three games.
In both games, the USC defense was absolutely spectacular, holding both teams scoreless until late in the fourth period. Thanks to an impressive combined effort from goaltenders senior Victória Chamorro and junior Amanda Longan, who both notched double digit save outings, the Trojans allowed only 3 goals on the day. Offensively, freshman driver Paige Hauschild led the way for the squad, picking up 4 goals in both games including a first half hat trick against Sonoma State.
“She’s one of the best young players, not only in the country, but in the entire world,” Vavic said. “For [Hauschild], the sky is the limit”.
While USC found smooth sailing through its first two matches, they were tested greatly in Sunday’s elimination round matches against No. 7 UC Irvine and No. 4 UCLA.
With Chamorro back in net for the Trojans, the team fought an up and down battle against the Anteaters. Fighting on with only a slight lead throughout the match, Chamorro helped close the door with 13 saves. Building off her first two games, Hauschild again led the squad with two goals while captain Brianna Daboub picked up her 100th career goal on a critical first-half strike. Senior utility player Annika Jensen notched the seventh and final goal for USC, clinching a 7-5 victory and a date with crosstown rival UCLA in the finals.
In the championship match late Sunday, USC never once fell behind the Bruins. Putting the cherry on top of an incredible tournament, Hauschild again led the Trojans with two more goals while Daboub had a couple key scores of her own. The turning points of the game came on penalty tries both teams earned in the second and third periods respectively.
While Longan came up huge in stopping UCLA’s attempts late in the first half, USC’s sophomore driver Denise Mammolito was successful in her attempts in the third. This 2-goal swing gave the Trojans all the momentum they needed to finish off the Bruins and take home their fifth-straight Triton Invitational Championship.