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No.1 USC Women’s Water Polo Never Trails In 9-7 Win Over No. 3 UCLA

Apr 16, 2022

LOS ANGELES — The No. 1 USC women's water polo team put on a winning show in front of an appreciate crowd, beating No. 3 rival UCLA 9-7 at Uytengsu Aquatics Center today to finish MPSF action undefeated and score the top seed into the coming conference tournament The Trojans never trailed in this one, netting key goals to keep the Bruins at bay in USC's home waters. USC improves to 17-2 overall and grips a 6-0 mark in MPSF play.

It was an all-around effort by the Trojans, who had six different scorers along with some savvy defensive plays to stymie the Bruins along the way. Goalie Carolyne Stern made a 5-meter penalty block and snuffed a could dangerous UCLA counterattack chances to keep her Trojans in stride. Paige Hauschild and Mireia Guiral both punched up their second goals of the day during the fourth period, and one last Stern saved sealed it for USC.

The game opened in true rivalry fashion, with USC striking first off a searing backhand blast from Tilly Kearns out of two meters. UCLA promptly leveled it with a scored from distance. Hauschild had the answer next, tugging the Trojans ahead 2-1. That lead would last four minutes until UCLA found an equalizer, and it was knotted 2-2 entering the second frame. There, USC made its move. Another assist from Alejandra Aznar fed Grace Tehaney for a laser the lifted USC ahead 3-2. Stern stepped up for the stop against a UCLA 5-meter next, and then Tehaney returned the favor to her fellow lefty as Aznar buried one to make it 4-2. Thirty seconds later, UCLA got one back. A Bayley Weber field block upended a UCLA power play, Weber would nab a steal, draw an exclusion and then see sophomore Julia Janov convert with a blast that got USC up 5-3 for halftime. 

The Trojans would have to continue to fend off the Bruins in the next frame. UCLA pulled back to within one at 5-4 and 6-5, only to see Mireia Guiral and Sophia Lucas each hammer home big goals to get USC back to two-goal leads. With 3:20 to go in the third, UCLA finished off its sixth of 11 power play chances in the game to make it 7-6. Stern came up huge on a 1-on-1 stop entering the final minute of the third, and it would stay 7-6 entering the fourth. That's where Hauschild and Guiral wrapped goals around a single 6-on-5 finish from UCLA. Just before Guiral's goal to get it to 9-7, Tehaney had helped put a stop to UCLA's 11th 6-on-5 chance, getting her fingers on the Bruins shot to steer it off course to send USC the other way.

The top seed for the MPSF Tournament, USC has earned a first-round bye. The Trojans are hosting the tourney, which runs April 22-24 at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. On Saturday (April 23) at 2:30 p.m., USC will face either Cal or Arizona State in a semifinal game. Placement games will be held on Sunday (April 24), culminating in the 2:30 p.m. championship match.

#1 USC 9, #3 UCLA 7
April 16, 2022 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC    2 - 3 - 2 - 2 = 9
UCLA    2 - 1 - 3 - 1 = 7

SCORING:
USC — Paige Hauschild 2, Mireia Guiral 2, Tilly Kearns, Grace Tehaney, Alejandra Aznar, Sophia Lucas, Julia Janov.
UCLA — Molly Renner 2, Maddie Musselman 2, Bella Wentzel, Ava Johnson, Malia Allen.

SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 8, Sydney Chiang (UCLA) 8.