The No. 2 USC women’s water polo will be back home for senior day in the Uytengsu Aquatic Center this weekend to take on No. 10 Arizona State.
The Trojans, who are 21-1 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, already defeated Arizona State this season in a decisive 7-1 victory over the Sun Devils back in February at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational Tournament in Irvine.
In preparation for the match, the Trojans are focusing on the big picture for the rest of the season.
“We’re focusing on getting better every practice, every game,” junior driver Kelsey McIntosh said. “Focusing on perfecting and getting better at the things that we want to bring out and play with in MPSF and NCAA [tournament play] come the end of April and beginning of May. We’re honing in on mistakes that we’ve made in the past few games, learning from our mistakes and just getting better.”
Junior utility Maud Megens leads the Trojans this year with 54 goals on the season. Drivers sophomore Paige Hauschild and freshman Alejandra Anzar put up 30 each. Senior goalie Amanda Longan anchors the Trojan defense with 182 saves in the books.
After a 8-9 overtime loss to Stanford two weeks ago that snapped USC’s 36-game win streak, it became clear the Trojans are not invincible.
“I think it helped us refocus on what our goal is for this season,” McIntosh said. “That loss allowed us to learn from our mistakes. Yes, we didn’t have Maud, but we had control of the game and we just let that slip. So we’re refocusing, re-adding Maud back into the picture after her being gone for a week and taking that full route.”
On offense, USC will need to be conscious of senior attacker Maud Koopman, a scoring force with 46 goals on the season. Sophomore goalie Bridget Johnston will hold down the Sun Devil defense in goal, having saved 77 shots on goal this year, averaging 4.7 saves per game.
The Trojans faced challenges this past month after losing head coach Jovan Vavic amid the national college admissions bribery scheme. However, the team has displayed its resilience, and McIntosh said the recent administrative changes brought the team closer together.
“Something like this can either destroy what you had or make you stronger,” McIntosh said. “I’m so happy to say that it’s made us so much stronger. There is so much love and joy and happiness when we come to the pool and do what we love, and that’s what’s kept us strong and keeps us moving to what we want to do at the end of this season in May.”
As regular season play wraps up, the Trojans have one more game against crosstown rival UCLA before the MPSF tournament. These upcoming games will serve not only as opportunities for USC to avenge their loss to Stanford, but also as preparation for MPSF and NCAA tournament play.
“We’re trying to do something special, and that’s go back-to-back for the first time in women’s water polo history here at USC,” McIntosh said.
The match tips off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The Trojans will honor their graduating seniors driver Courtney Fahey, goalie Amanda Longan and driver Brooke Presten for senior day before the match begins.