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No. 1 USC Women’s Water Polo Crashes Cal 10-8 In MPSF Semifinal

Apr 23, 2022

LOS ANGELES — The No. 1 USC women's water polo team countered an early effort from No. 4 California with a couple key scoring rallies, turning a two-goal deficit into a four-goal lead before closing things out as a 10-8 MPSF semifinal victory today at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The win puts the host Trojans into position to fight for a fourth straight MPSF Tournament title, as top-seeded USC squares off against No. Stanford tomorrow (April 24) at 2:30 p.m. in the championship bout.

Cal flexed its scoring muscle early, punching up a quick lead before Alejandra Aznar answered with her first of three goals on the day. The equalizer did not deter the Golden Bears, who snapped off back-to-back blasts next to build a 3-1 lead not even two minutes into the game. Grace Tehaney let fly a laser to get one back, but Cal converted on a 6-on-5 next, and the Bears would lead it 4-2 after one period of play. Duly awoken, USC got in a groove next with three straight scores — a fake-and-fire from Aznar, a 5-meter penalty shot from Bayley Weber and a nifty rocket from Paige Hauschild — to take its first lead, up 5-4. Again, Cal would finish off a power play, and it would stand knotted at 5-5 for halftime.  

The USC defense would stay stingy in the third, again allowing just a single Cal goal while Tilly Kearns and Weber ripped in a goal apiece to carry USC ahead 7-6 entering the fourth. There, the Trojans made it a four-goal surge while turning defensive plays into scores at the other end. Mireia Guiral fired off a 6-on-5 finish to get USC some padding at last, up 8-6 midway through the fourth. Aznar found Kearns for a ripper that took USC ahead 9-6, and after a Hauschild steal and a 6-on-5 miss by the Bears, Aznar fizzed in a fiery blast to balloon the Trojan advantage to 10-6 with 1:44 to go. Cal got two scores through in the remaining time, but USC's comeback surge was well intact as the  Trojans emerged with the 10-8 decision to punch its ticket to the 2022 title match.

Tomorrow's MPSF action at Uytengsu Aquatics Center features three placement games. At 11 a.m., Indiana faces San José State in the fifth-place game, followed by a 12:45 p.m. third-place game between UCLA and Cal. The championship match its set for 2:30 p.m. between the Trojans and the Cardinal.

2022 MPSF TOURNAMENT

SEMIFINALS
#1 USC 10, #4 California 8
April 24, 2022 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC    2 - 3 - 2 - 3 = 10
CAL        4 - 1 - 1 - 2 = 8

SCORING:
USC — Alejandra Aznar 3, Bayley Weber 2, Tilly Kearns 2, Grace Tehaney, Paige Hauschild, Mireia Guiral.
CAL —Emma Wright 4, Ruby Swadling 2, Kitty Lynn Joustra, Reagan Whitney.

SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 7, Isabel Williams (CAL) 10.