USC Women’s Water Polo Clamps Down On Cal For 9-7 NCAA Semifinal Victory
ANN ARBOR, MICH — The USC women's water polo team used some savvy defense to put California out of reach in today's NCAA Semifinal, winning 9-7 to set the Trojans up for a shot at defending their 2021 title as they head to tomorrow's National Collegiate Championship game. USC shut out the Golden Bears for over 13 minutes to make its winning move, while Bayley Weber and Tilly Kearns scored three goals apiece to power up the Trojan cause. Now 20-3 overall, USC is aiming to claim back-to-back national championships for the first time in program history when the Trojans face top-seeded Stanford tomorrow (May 8) in the title match at 4 p.m. ET at Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Mich. That game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
— USC Water Polo (@USCWaterPolo) May 8, 2022
It was a battle out of the gates when the Bears followed up Bayley Weber's opening strike with an equalizer and a 5-meter penalty goal to take a first-frame lead. USC's Sophia Lucas sizzled in the equalizer next, though, and it was knotted at 2-2 entering the second period. There, the Trojan defense made a stubborn stand. Alejandra Aznar opened things up with a steal, and a little later it was Lucas again with the go-ahead goal with a sneaky bar-in lob. Up 3-2, USC locked in further, thanks in large part to some big stops from goalie Carolyne Stern. While the USC defense buzzed around and threw Cal off-balance, Stern collected some key saves, including a huge block against a Cal 5-meter penalty shot. Seconds later, Weber knocked in a rebound, and USC was up 4-2 in the final minute of the first half.
At 5:14 in the third, Tilly Kearns went on a solo mission to tug the Trojans ahead 5-2. Cal would break almost 14 minutes of scoring silence with a backhand to make it 5-3, only to see USC drum up two more goals to put the Bears in a 7-3 hole entering the fourth. The deficit deepened for Cal when Weber found Kearns for a searing backhand to get USC ahead 8-3. The Bears would get some goals to go in that final stretch, but USC's control of the game was never in doubt, with an athletic effort from Alejandra Aznar tallying USC's ninth goal of the game with 1:58 to go. One final steal from Kearns would end it. And USC had the 9-7 win in the books to put the Trojans in position to defend their 2021 NCAA crown.
No. 2 seed USC takes on No. 1 seed Stanford in the 2022 title match tomorrow (May 8) at 4 p.m. ET.
2022 NATIONAL COLLEGIATE WOMEN'S WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
 USC vs.  California
May 7, 2022 | Canham Natatorium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
USC 2 - 2 - 3 - 2 = 9
CAL 2 - 0 - 1 - 4 = 7
USC — Bayley Weber 3, Tilly Kearns 3, Sophia Lucas 2, Alejandra Aznar.
CAL — Emma Wright 3, Cecily Turner 2, Ruby Swadling, Rozanne Voorvelt.
SAVES: Carolyne Stern (USC) 9, Isabel Williams (CAL) 10.