The No. 1 USC women’s water polo team continued its 4-0 winning streak on the road with a 15-11 win over No. 13 San Jose State Sunday.
The Trojans had been looking to extend their 37-0 series record over the Spartans in their first MPSF match of the season. Both teams returned from the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at UC Irvine, where SJSU finished in 12th place and USC took the title.
SJSU senior 2-meter Jacqui Maisey scored as a result of a USC turnover, but Trojan junior driver Verica Bakoc answered on the next drive to start the Trojans’ 6-goal campaign in the first. Senior driver Elise Stein added another on a powerplay and senior driver Denise Mammolito scored on even strength with an assist from sophomore driver Grace Tehaney.
SJSU added a goal from junior 2-meter Tyanna Supreme to end USC’s scoring run in the period, but senior 2-meter Kaylee Brownsberger, Bakoc and sophomore 2-meter Mireia Guiral added to the Trojans’ lead within the last minute and a half.
A double turnover began the second frame, allowing SJSU’s sophomore utility Olga Descalzi Portell to score just a minute in. After working the ball around on a powerplay, Tehaney was able to score to bring the game to 7-3. Despite Brownsberger’s hat trick and Bakoc’s second goal, however, the Spartans took advantage of man-down and even-strength plays to end the half at 10-5.
SJSU struggled with a low shooting percentage in the first half, but in the past, USC has allowed more goals in the second. With this in mind, the plays that made the game for USC involved ball movement and patience to find the best shot for six-on-fives.
Sophomore utility Bayley Weber scored a goal on a steal to begin her own run toward a hat trick, and another shot from Guiral brought the score to 12-6 after the Spartans’ Maisey snuck one in on the first drive. While SJSU took another goal on a powerplay, redshirt junior goalie Holly Parker made sure the run ended there, blocking a 5-meter penalty shot to keep a sizable lead heading into the fourth.
From Parker’s position in goal, USC’s defense was best at taking a hard press and forcing turnovers — eight in total by the end of the game.
“I think the defense has been pretty solid all around,” Parker said. “I think we struggled a little bit today, but we have a pretty strong press and press defense and I think that that was able to force a lot of the turnovers. With that said, we did give up a few too many shots more than we had set the goal for, but we won the game. A win’s a win.”
The Trojans looked to maintain their late lead with redshirt freshman Erin Tharp in goal. SJSU was able to get three goals in — two on powerplays — but Weber put back-to-back scores past sophomore goalie Hannah Henry in response. The Spartans’ six-on-five percentage was rounded out at .417 with another goal from Supreme, but USC sophomore utility Sophia Lucas was there to answer to bring the final score to 15-11.
While the win carried USC’s momentum from the past invitational title, Parker noted that it was also an opportunity to scout an MPSF opponent come tourney time.
“[The win] was really nice to get the feel of just being up there, seeing them, getting a preview to what they might do moving forward,” Parker said. “And if we play them again in conference, we’ll be even better prepared for them.”
After a break the upcoming weekend, the Trojans will face No. 7 Cal at home March 14 at noon before a quick turnaround to host Indiana March 15 at noon.