USC Women’s Water Polo No. 3 hits local waters to host the Hoosiers on Saturday
Women’s water polo | March 09, 2022
Saturday March 12 | 11am | Uytengsu Aquatic Center
Recording of the series: USC leads 14-0 (W14)
Last meeting: USC 19, IU 10 (April 3, 2021)
FLOW | STATISTICS
No. 3 USC returns to its inland waters for its second MPSF game of the season, as the Trojans (11-2, 1-0 MPSF) host No. 15 Indiana (10-9, 0-1) this week-end. USC and the Hoosiers will face off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 12 at the Uytengsu Aquatic Center, where the Trojans have won 14 straight games since 2019.
USC started 2022 where it left off, with the defending NCAA champions opening at No. 1 in this year’s preseason poll. USC stayed ahead for the first three weeks of competition and held 3rd place for a week before dropping to 2nd place. In the latest national ranking (published on March 9), the Trojans now rank 3rd in the country.
The No. 15 Hoosiers are 10-9 overall after going 3-1 at the Harvard Invitational, where Indiana beat Harvard 12-9 in overtime, fell to Wagner 7-6, then beat Cal Lutheran 12- 5 and Brown 9-6. Izzy Mandema leads IU in scoring with 2.3 goals per game, and goaltender Mary Askew averages 7.2 saves per game. In a streak dating back to 1997, USC is 14-0 against Indiana after picking up two wins — 10-8 and 19-10 — at Bloomington last year.
USC took third place in the 2022 Barbara Kalbus Invitational in its last competition. The Trojans opened with a 21-2 victory over Pomona-Pitzer, then outscored Long Beach State 16-5 to end group play on a winning note. In the semi-finals, USC came up against a strong Stanford side who pulled off a 16-10 win over the Trojans to take the title game. That put USC in the third-place game against Hawai’i, and the Trojans put on a solid second half to earn an 11-8 win over Rainbow Wahine. Four Trojans have hit the back of the net in all four games, with Tilly Kearn completing with four multi-goal efforts to total 10 goals in the event. Paige Hauschild was next with nine, while Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea had six. Sabrina Garabet also served in goal every game for the Trojans.
TILLY TAKES IT
In USC’s first MPSF matchup against undefeated Cal, Tilly Kearn scored three goals, drew four shutouts and had two interceptions in a 13-7 Trojan win over the Golden Bears. For her powerful performance in USC’s key conference victory, Kearns earned her first selection as MPSF Player of the Week on February 22. Kearns’ first goal helped give USC an 8-5 halftime lead, and she scored two thirds as USC shut out Cal in that frame to lead 12-5. Kearns has scored in every game for the Trojans and is their top scorer with 29 goals so far.
THE SHARDS OF BAYLEY
USC’s top scorer at the Triton Invitational, Bayley Weber extended her multi-goal streak to eight in a row and earned her first career selection as MPSF Player of the Week on February 15. Weber scored 11 goals for the Trojans in their run to the Triton Invite final. She scored three goals in the title game, an 11-10 loss to UCLA, after scoring two in USC’s 9-7 semifinal win over Hawai’i that morning. Weber also scored two goals to help beat UCSB 17-6 and then four to beat Long Beach State 17-6 in group play Saturday. Weber is currently USC’s second leading scorer with 25 goals so far. She is the only player to score multiple goals in every game this year, and she is the first Trojan to be named MPSF Player of the Week this season.
Thirteen games into the new year, USC already has four Trojans through the 20-goal mark on offense. Tilly Kearn leads the way with 39 goals, closely followed by by Bayley Weber 33 blasts. Paige Hauschild and Grace Tehaney, meanwhile, are well in the area with 27 and 26 goals respectively. Kearns has scored in all 13 games, with Weber and Tehaney having scored in 12 each to date. defensively, Caroline Stern and Erin Thrap shared time in the cage, averaging 6.8 combined saves per game to anchor a Trojan defense giving up just 6.6 goals per game. USC has outscored opponents 216-86 so far, while keeping teams scoreless in nine different periods to date.
With his work at the Triton Invite, Grace Tehaney was the latest Trojan to make his way into USC’s 100-goal club, joining the first inductee Bayley Weber. Tehaney is now at 109 career goals, while Weber currently holds 123 career goals as a Trojan. Meanwhile, Paige Hauschild is also on the rise, with 144 career goals to rank 14th all-time in the Trojan history books to date.
For the first time since 2009, USC will have two Trojans in the water after Olympic experiences in 2020 Olympians Paige Hauschild (United States) and Tilly Kearn (Australia). The additional international influx comes from Spain Alejandra Aznar, who also took time off from USC to train with her national team for the Games, although she did not compete in Tokyo. This trio last ended as the Trojans in 2019 – the second season for Hauschild and the first for Kearns and Aznar. That year, they scored 119 goals combined, nearly 30% of USC’s total output in a season that saw the Trojans win the MPSF Tournament and fall just short of the 2019 NCAA title. Altogether, they are a triple threat on their own. Hauschild wields a ferocious outside shot that combines with immense strength as a defender. Kearns is a proven force at the two-yard point. And Aznar boasts a deft left hand to give USC balance a depth charge. But offensive firepower only scratches the surface of their overall value to the Trojans this season.
BACK TO THIS
USC’s returning talent pool heads to All-Americans Mireia Guiral, Grace Tehaney and Bayley Weber. They’ve scored 93 goals combined, including six in last year’s 18-9 NCAA Championship win. Similar to the versatility of Hauschild, Kearns and Aznar, respectively, this trio offers defensive strength in Weber, two-yard prowess in Guiral and a left-handed laser in Tehaney. Just a freshman in 2021, Julia Janov gleaned invaluable experience as a member of this championship team, while relative veterans Sabrina Garabet and Sophie Lucas have also benefited from significant playing time to consolidate their leading role this year. And on the defensive end, USC has two solid goalies returning to help anchor the Trojans in the upper classes. Erin Thrap and Caroline Stern.
At present, this will be the first “normal” season for USC women’s water polo after two years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. USC’s 2020 campaign was cut short with the Trojans ranked No. 1 in the country. And 2021 featured a modified schedule with expanded MPSF competition and minimal non-conference competition en route to racing the Trojans to the national championship. As the 2022 competition kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 29, USC looks to another powerful season that will finally see the Trojans maneuvering for another appearance in the NCAA. USC has appeared in all 17 NCAA tournaments, with no intention of changing course. The Trojans also have the advantage of hosting this year’s MPSF tournament, which will take place from April 22-24 at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
In 2021, USC lost just one game all season (22-1) en route to a record win in the NCAA Championship Game that marked USC’s seventh national championship and the first under head coach Marko Pintaric. The Trojans beat Stanford 9-6 in the MPSF Tournament title game and then avenged their only loss of the year with a dominating 18-9 win over UCLA in the National Championship game, scoring the most goals ever recorded in an NCAA final. Cutino Award Winner Maud Megens scored six of those goals for the Trojans. She would also go on to be named National Player of the Year, and Pintaric was chosen as National Coach of the Year. Megens was part of a record eight All-Americans in 2021, joined in the All-America First Team by other seniors Denise Mammolito and Holly Parker. Junior Bayley Weber earned second-team and senior status Kelsey McIntosh was a third-team pick. And earning honorable mention All-America were Verica Bakoc, Mireia Guiral and Grace Tehaney. •