USC Water Polo: Women of Troy Defeat Cardinal In Epic National Championship


The USC Trojans battled through thick and thin to claim a 10-9 victory in the third sudden-death period of play against the Stanford Cardinal, winning the 2013 National Championship as the top-seed in the Women’s Water Polo Tournament, held in Boston Massachusetts. The victory is rather fitting for head coach Jovan Vavic, who has now seen this group of women match the men’s squad as national champions, cementing USC as the collegiate hub for Water Polo.

For Jovan Vavic, the esteemed coach of both the men’s and women’s water polo programs at USC, this is his 12th NCAA title, and the fourth time that he has won titles with both programs in the same academic year.

After nearly 46 minutes of intense Water Polo action, Annie Espar drilled a deep shot into the back of the net, securing the Trojans first championship since 2010.  Ashley Grossman got to a centering pass and tipped it in to equalize things at 8-8 just 12 seconds away from the end of regulation, beginning the dramatic overtime.

The Women of Troy struck first in the first frame of overtime, when Kelly Mendoza gave them their second lead of the contest. Then with just 10 seconds left in the opening overtime period, Maggie Steffens scored an equalizer that just slid past the line.

Stanford then took the lead in double-overtime on their way to winning the National Championship until Hannah Buckling scored the game’s most exciting equalizer, sending the game to sudden death. That led to an eight-minute exchange with three sudden-death periods that were epic: it featured two Stanford missess off the post, and strong USC defense following an exclusion penalty in the second sudden death.

The Women of Troy defeated Stanford for the third time this season, but everyone who watched understood why these were the two best teams in the nation. The Trojans won the first matchup of the year 13-10, but lost the next time these goliaths met, their first and only loss of the season. They met once again in the MPSF Championships and USC overcame a 5-0 deficit to take down the Cardinal 11-7 in Berkeley.

The rode to the championship was rather easy, yet equally rewarding for the Women of Troy. The top-seeded squad made quite the statement with a strong 16-9 win over No. 4 seed Hawai’i in the NCAA Semifinals. The Trojans swamped the Rainbows with another widespread attack, rattling off seven straight goals from the hands of seven different Trojans.

The top-seeded USC women’s water polo team rode a 27 unanswered goal streak to trounce the 8th-seed Pomona-Pitzer 27-1 in the first round of the tournament. Twelve different Trojans hit the back of the net in the game, led by four-goal outings from captain Dominique Sardo and Cutino Award finalist Monica Vavic.

The Women of Troy can now celebrate a hard-fought championship after losing in last year’s final to cross-town rival UCLA. This game will definitely go down in history: one as the longest championship game ever, and two the final piece of a dyansty for USC Head Coach Jovan Vavic and his Water Polo program.