The No. 1 USC women’s water polo team is on the road at Irvine to compete in four matches at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational this week.
Last weekend, the Trojans opened Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference play with a 19-1 win over the Indiana Hoosiers at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
This weekend, USC is one of 16 teams competing in the tournament. The Trojans will be playing in Group A, along with Arizona State, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State.
Junior utility Maud Megens and sophomore driver Paige Hauschild lead the Trojans in scoring with 33 and 21 goals, respectively. Senior goalie Amanda Longan leads the conference in saves with 99 in the books this season.
Hauschild said playing in four games over the course of the weekend is no hard task for the Trojans.
“We’ve played this tournament before, we played in the Santa Barbara tournament as well, where we had four games, so it is something we’re used to,” Hauschild said. “But especially with some big competition this weekend, we’re doing a lot of preparation, a lot of video, and our practices are really geared toward our opponents, so we’re just doing everything we can to prepare for some of the top teams.”
The action begins Friday morning at 10 a.m. with a match against SDSU. Senior driver Hannah Carillo and sophomore utility Emily Bennett lead the Aztecs offensively this season with 11 and 7 goals, respectively, along with eight and five assists, respectively. Senior goalie Maura Cantoni will defend the cage and has 57 saves on the season.
If USC wins its match Saturday morning, it will move on to the tournament semi-finals on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans would continue the weekend’s action by facing off against the winner of the ASU vs. UCSB match.
Junior defender Bente Rogge and senior attacker Maud Koopman are scoring powerhouses for the Sun Devils, posting 27 and 25 goals this season respectively. Sophomore goalie Bridget Johnston anchors the defense in goal with 24 saves.
For UCSB, junior utility Sarah Snyder and freshman attacker Amanda Legaspi lead the Gauchos’ scoring with 27 and 23 goals this season respectively. Freshman utility Caitlyn Snyder aids with 10 assists. Junior goalie Kenzi Snyder holds down the defense with 64 saves in goal.
Hauschild said USC still has growing to do before it can play its best.
“Obviously, we’ve had a lot of success so far, but I think our team chemistry in the pool can improve,” she said. “We just need to play more games together, we had a few girls come in January, so mixing them into the team is still a work in progress. Outside the water, we love them. They’re great girls, but figuring out our roles in the pool is still a big thing.”
If the Trojans secure a victory Saturday afternoon, they will advance to the championship game on Sunday. All games will take place at the UC Irvine Aquatic Center and the Corona del Mar pool.
Hauschild said it’s important for the team to keep its goal of another national championship in mind as it continues the season.
“We all know what our end goal is, we went over our goals at the beginning of the season,” Hauschild said. “None of us are really satisfied. We’re all still looking forward. We’re not complacent at all. Our coach keeps us in check, and we all keep each other in check, so we’re just continuing the hard work.”