No. 1 USC Women’s Water Polo Falls 11-9 In MPSF Final To No. 2 Stanford
LOS ANGELES — It was a wildly unpredictable MPSF women's water polo title match today between the nation's top teams, with top-ranked host USC battling back from a deep first-half hole to take a lead in the fourth before No. 2 Stanford got the goals it needed to pull off an 11-9 victory over the Trojans. Now 18-3 overall and a likely at-large selection, USC awaits the announcement of NCAA Tournament selections and seedings, which will be released at 5 p.m. PT on Monday (April 25) on ncaa.com.
USC received four goals from Paige Hauschild today along with three goals and countless exclusions drawn by Tilly Kearns to help the Trojans make it a game against the Cardinal. Hauschild scored a bar-in blast first and then converted on a 5-meter penalty shot drawn by Kearns to get USC ahead 2-0 early. But Stanford would catch a spark and score six straight goals to storm ahead 6-2 by the 3-minute mark of the second period. Kearns would get USC up on a power lay soon after and converted it herself on a feed from Alejandra Aznar to get USC back on the board, trailing 6-3 for halftime.
The Trojans topped off a nice 6-on-5 series with a Grace Tehaney blast to make it 6-4, but would fall in another three-goal hole with a power play finish from the Cardinal moments later. As the USC defense stiffened, the Trojan offense found its groove as well. While Trojan takeaways turned USC back on the attack, Weber, Kearns and Hauschild would net USC goals in the next four minutes, capped by a 6-on-5 equalize from Hauschild off another Aznar assist to knot it up 7-7 entering the fourth.
There, Kearns set USC up with a third 5-meter penalty shot, and Hauschild hammered it home to give USC its first lead of the game, up 8-7 in the first minute of the fourth. Carolyne Stern came up with a great save against a Stanford 6-on-5 next, but the Cardinal would score as teams pulled even, equalizing there and then sending Stanford off on a scoring rally. Stanford tallied three straight to put USC behind 10-8 with 5:00 to play, and USC got one back on Kearns' third goal from another Aznar setup. Within reach at 10-9, USC saw Stern make two more key stops, only to have Stanford strike on a 6-on-5 to nudge ahead 11-9 with 3:02 remaining. The Trojans would get no closer, as Stanford emerged with the win to take the MPSF Tournament championship. USC had won three straight MPSF titles and was hoping for a historic fourth consecutive crown before Stanford snagged today's win.
After the close of the tournament, USC's Paige Hauschild and Tilly Kearns were named to the MPSF All-Tournament Team.
NCAA Tournament competition is slated for May 6-8 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
2022 MPSF TOURNAMENT
#2 Stanford 11, #1 USC 9
April 24, 2022 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC 2 - 1 - 4 - 2 = 9
STAN 3 - 3 - 1 - 4 = 11
USC — Paige Hauschild 4, Tilly Kearns 3, Grace Tehaney, Bayley Weber.
STAN — Ryann Neushul 4, Chloe Harbilass 2, Katie Lyons, Hannah Constandse, Makenzie Fischer, Sophie Wallace, Jewel Roemer.
SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 8, Maya Avital (STAN) 6.