No. 1 USC is headed to the NCAA Championship game after defeating No. 4 UCLA 10-6 in their semifinal matchup. Senior Brianna Daboub and freshman Paige Hauschild led the Trojans with three goals each. Junior goalie Amanda Longan tallied up 10 big saves in the cage. Head coach Jovan Vavic, MPSF Coach of the Year, credits the win to a great team effort.
“The whole entire team defense was excellent,” Vavic said. “They were helping each other and we hustled.”
The matchup between the crosstown rivals was close early. After the Women of Troy found the back of the net first, courtesy of Daboub, UCLA tied it right back up. USC scored three consecutive goals—by Kelsey McIntosh, Paige Hauschild, Denise Mammolito—before the Bruins scored their second. Sophomore driver Mammolito had two goals on the day. Senior utility Hayley McKelvey led the team with three assists.
“We are not a selfish team. We don’t have anybody on this team that is going to take a shot if a teammate is more open, so they really work for each other,” Vavic said. “That’s what so special about this group.”
The Trojans took control of the game in the first period, outscoring the Bruins 5-2. USC kept their scoring consistent throughout, but its barrage of goals in the first established the lead, which it sustained through the match.
For the entire second period—stretching into the third—the Trojans kept UCLA from scoring. The Bruins finally found the back of the net when there were about four minutes remaining in the third. In that span, the Women of Troy found the net four times.
“Like in basketball when shots start to go in, everybody feels good and you have your runs,” Vavic said. “It’s the same way. We were feeding off of each other’s energy it was great. That’s what makes it so much fun.”
In the third period, only three goals were scored in total: UCLA had two, USC one. Strong defensive performances from both teams kept their opponents out of the back of the net.
The closest UCLA got to USC was when the score was 9-6 with 19 seconds to play. Freshman Nadia Pavlovich added USC’s final goal, her fourth of the season.
Hauschild, MPSF Newcomer of the Year, cemented herself as the program’s top scorer as a true freshman with her three goals against the Bruins, passing Moriah Van Norman, who had 65 goals as a true freshman in 2003. The freshman continually credits her teammates for the success she’s had this year because of the atmosphere and chemistry they share.
Vavic and Hauschild both did not know that she had broken the record during the press conference after the game. Smiles stretched across their faces after finding out.
“Well, I didn’t, to be honest with you, think she was this good. When I watched her play in high school, she was good—outstanding—but not this good,” Vavic said. “She is just one of the best freshman that ever played collegiate water polo.”
With 67 goals on the season, the freshman driver is now ninth on USC’s single-season goal leader list, passing Katrin Dierolf (65 goals, 2001), Moriah Van Norman (65 goals, 2003), Aniko Pelle (64 goals, 2000), and Stephania Haralabidis (64 goals, 2015). Hauschild is three goals away from tying Sofia Konoukh’s 2002 season goal total of 70.
“She’s dominant in every aspect. She never loses her strength. She’s just a complete player,” Vavic said. “I am very, very fortunate that she chose us.”
Hauschild also went four-for-four on opening sprints against UCLA.
Longan, MPSF Player of the Year, has 204 saves on the season, 11th overall. In 2017, Longan had 221 saves, eighth overall. Her presence in the net helped to solidify USC’s lead throughout the game.
Longan talked about how the team’s offensive abilities have helped her grow in the cage.
“During practice, the kind of shots that they take on me forces me to have to be a little smarter in trying to outsmart shooters,” Longan said. “In turn, when I start to do that and make adjustments, they have to outsmart me.”
On a 15-game win streak, USC will face No. 2 Stanford on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Cardinal defeated No. 3 California 11-7 in the second semifinal of the day. In the three times that the two teams met this season, USC went 2-1. The Cardinal are responsible for USC’s only loss this season. The Trojans’ most recent win was the 13-12 overtime victory in the MPSF Tournament Championship on April 29. Last year in the national title game, No. 2 Stanford came away with the upset with an 8-7 win over No. 1 UCLA.
Since 2010, it’s been either USC or Stanford walking away with the NCAA crown. The Trojans have won it three times in that span, each time against Stanford. The Cardinal have won it the other five times.
Love USC sports?
Sign up for our sports newsletter to get an update every Monday on the Trojans' success.
Get the USC news that matters to you. Sign up for text alerts!
(We promise we'll only text you when it's important)