USC vs. Stanford in Sunday's MPSF Finals

Kat Klass, Stanford (Photo courtesy Stanford)
Kat Klass, Stanford (Photo courtesy Stanford)
April 28, 2018

2018 MPSF CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT

Friday-Sunday, April 27-29, 2018

Host: University of California; Spieker Aquatics Complex

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Friday, April 27

Game 1: No. 3 seed Stanford 16, No. 6 seed San Jose State 4

Game 2: No. 4 seed UCLA 14, No. 5 seed Arizona State 4

No. 1 seed USC and No. 2 seed California--Bye

Saturday, April 28

Game 3: No. 5 seed Arizona State 13, No. 6 seed San Jose State 3

Game 4: No. 1 seed USC 13, No. 4 seed UCLA 10

Game 5: No. 3 seed Stanford 12, No. 2 seed California 9

Sunday, April 29

Game 6: No. 4 seed UCLA at No. 2 seed California (Third-Place) --11:00 am

Game 7: No. 1 seed USC vs. No. 3 seed Stanford (Championship)--12:45 pm

MPSF Consolation: No. 5 seed Arizona State 13, No. 6 seed San Jose State 3

Recap by ASU

BERKELEY, Calif. - The No. 6 Sun Devil Water Polo team captured fifth place at the 2018 MPSF Women's Water Polo Championship, defeating No. 20 San Jose State, 13-3, Saturday afternoon at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Arizona State (16-9) caps the MPSF Championships with a 1-1 record, bouncing back after falling to fourth-seeded UCLA in quarterfinal action on Friday.

The stars shined bright in the final match in Berkeley, as a decorated senior class played outstanding throughout the afternoon. Leading the way offensively, Lena Mihailovic registered her first five-goal performance and her second hat trick of the season. She had plenty of help, as Arizona State featured a balanced attack that was predicated on ball movement. Julia Reyes, Alkistis Benekou, and Maud Koopman each added a pair of goals to round out what was an excellent effort for the Sun Devils.

Mia Rycraw was spectacular in net, as the redshirt senior reached a milestone thanks to a brilliant 15-save performance. Rycraw, who was recently named to the All-MPSF Second Team, eclipsed the 800 career saves mark. She now sits at 814 saves, the third most in school history. In all three season she has been the Sun Devils main goalkeeper, Rycraw has finished with at least 200 saves.

Lena Mihailovic recorded the opening tally for the Sun Devils in what would become a theme, as the senior attacker was a force all afternoon. Leading 1-0, the Sun Devils took a 2-0 lead courtesy of a Julia Reyes goal with 23 seconds left in the period. Mia Rycraw set the tone for what would be one of her best outings of the season, shutting out the Spartans through the first period.

The Sun Devils would respond loudly after San Jose State scored their first goal of the match to open up the second period. Maud Koopman converted on a 6-on-5 opportunity, giving extending the lead back to two goals. The Arizona State offense would not be finished there, as they established a rhythm beginning in the second. Lena Mihailovic scored her second goal of the match followed shortly after by a goal from Bente Rogge, as the sophomore buried a penalty shot to put ASU up 5-1. Lena Mihailovic's productive first half continued, as she completed the hat trick with 55 seconds remaining in the half. The Sun Devils would take a 6-1 lead into the break, thanks to a few acrobatic saves from Mia Rycraw.

It would be much of the same in the second half, as the Sun Devils continued to control the action on both ends of the pool. Bouncing back after the Spartans scored the opening goal of the half, Julia Reyes cashed in on a 6-on-5 opportunity as the Sun Devils re-took a five-goal lead. Maud Koopman dished a beautiful feed to Alkistis Benekou, who executed a tip shot perfectly to score the eighth goal of the match for Arizona State. Feeling confident in the midst of her best performance of the season, Lena Mihailovic continued to pile on adding her fourth goal of the match on a rocket shot past the Spartans goaltender. The power play was working all afternoon, as Maud Koopman converted yet another 6-on-5 chance. With 2:21 left in the third period, Catherine Simko put ASU on top 11-2 with her fourth goal of the season. The Sun Devils would maintain that 11-2 lead, with the defense riding a special outing by Mia Rycraw.

Never relenting in their effort throughout the match, the Sun Devils pushed through the fourth quarter to earn the victory. Alkistis Benekou notched her second goal of the match and Lena Mihailovic capped the match in fitting fashion, as she scored her fifth goal of the match to reach the 30-goal plateau for the second consecutive season. Mihailovic became just the second Sun Devil this season to record five-goals in a game. Rycraw kept the Spartans from cutting into the double-digit lead, as the redshirt senior's 15-save effort represents her 10th double digit save outing this season.

The Sun Devils cap the season with a record of 16-9, with 14 of those wins coming over teams that were ranked in the CWPA Top 25. Arizona State continuously proved they could play with anyone, knocking off four Top-10 teams and hanging tough with several Top-Five powerhouses. The Sun Devils will have the rest of the weekend off as their postseason fate will be determined on Monday, April 30th at 5:00 P.M. PT during the NCAA Women's Water Polo Selection Show. Stay tuned to our website and follow us on all of our social media platforms for postseason information with a season recap coming soon.

MPSF Semifinal: No. 1 seed USC 13, No. 4 seed UCLA 10

Recap by USC

BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The No. 1 USC women's water polo team had its underclassmen explode on the offensive end to anchor the Trojans to a 13-10 win over No. 4 UCLA in the MPSF Tournament semifinals in Berkeley today. Headlined by MPSF Newcomer of the Year Paige Hauschild's five goals, USC's freshmen and sophomores accounted for 11 Trojan goals. On the defensive end, USC junior goalie Amanda Longan -- the MPSF Player of the Year -- lived up to her billing with 13 saves in under four periods of work. The victory send the top-seeded Trojans into tomorrow's title match at 12:45 p.m. at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex. USC improves to 22-1 overall with today's semifinal win and extends its win streak to 12 straight.

Hauschild's five-goal outburst bumps her 2018 total to 61 goals, marking the second most ever in a single season by a USC true freshman. Longan's 13 saves today also tugs the USC junior to the No. 3 all-time slot in Trojan history with 542 career saves now to her name.

After the Bruins struck first, USC rifled in back-to-back goals with veteran Brianna Daboub hammering in the Trojans' opening goal with authority off a setup from sophomore Maud Megens before Hauschild found fellow freshman Verica Bakoc for a ripper that tugged USC ahead 2-1 Up against a string of UCLA power play chances, Longan delivered a block on the first of the series, but later was stuck facing a 6-on-4 situation that UCLA capitalized on to level it 2-2 by the end of the first. The Bruins would get plenty more opportunities in the second, with six 6-on-5 chances in the next eight minutes. USC's defense would shut down all but one, while the Trojans poured on three more goals -- another from Bakoc, a bullet from Megens and then a laser from Hayley McKelvey -- before Longan issued one more power play save to end the half with a 5-3 USC lead.

The start of the third was much like the end of the second, with Longan hauling in another clutch save. This one sent USC off on the counterattack, where Hauschild hit McIntosh for the finishing touch and a 6-3 USC lead. Some hustle work from McIntosh would get USC a 5-meter penalty chance soon after, and Hauschild deposited it through to make it a 7-3 USC advantage. UCLA would make the most of its 10th power play of the game next, but Haushild stepped up -- literally -- in climbing high for a jam that got USC back to a four-goal advantage. UCLA would net back-to-back goals next to cut it to a two-goal margin, only to see Hauschild deliver her third of the period off a pass from Megens, and USC was up 9-6 on its rivals to go into the fourth.

Hauschild kept coming in the fourth, rifling in a solo shot on an opening USC 6-on-5 earned by captain Daboub and then answering a crosscage score from UCLA with a rocket that had USC up 11-7 with 5:18 to go. McIntosh's second of the day got USC to a 12-8 lead before the Bruins carved it down to 12-10 with 30 seconds remaining, but USC got the final word on a blast from sophomore Kaylee Brownsberger with two ticks to go to wrap up a 13-10 USC victory.

USC now turns to face No. 2 Stanford in tomorrow's MPSF title match, fighting for an automatic NCAA berth in a 12:45 p.m. final in Berkeley.

MPSF Semifinal: No. 3 seed Stanford 12, No. 2 seed California 9

Recap by Stanford

BERKELEY, Calif. - Julia Hermann made 11 saves, Makenzie Fischer rattled the cage five times and No. 2 Stanford beat No. 3 Cal in an MPSF semifinal on Saturday afternoon, 12-9.

The Cardinal advances to tomorrow's championship and will play No. 1 USC for the conference title at 12:45 p.m. A live stream will be available via MPSF College Sports Live and in-game updates can be found on the team's Twitter account @Stanfordh2opolo.

Down 4-2 midway through the second quarter, Stanford closed the gap on a Makenzie Fischer goal to the top corner (5:31) and tied it on an Aria Fischer score inside at 4:27. Cal would inch back in front on an Emma Wright lob, but that would be its last lead. The Cardinal closed the period with a pair of goals from Makenzie Fischer to head into halftime with its first advantage, 6-5.

On defense at 3:08, Madison Berggren sagged off the person she was guarding on the outside and knocked the ball out of the hand of a Cal player to win back possession for Stanford. Fischer would fire it in at the other end to make it 5-5. With just eight seconds to go until intermission, Jordan Raney found Fischer at the back post and the sophomore was able to beat Madison Tagg to the near side.

Fischer, who had four of her game-high five goals in the first half, has been a force since Stanford returned from its finals break. The MPSF's scoring leader has put in nine goals so far at the MPSF Tournament and is averaging 4.13 goals per game in the Cardinal's last eight. She's had six outings this season with five goals and five of those have come during this post-exams stretch.

Its first lead in hand, Stanford kept rolling in the second half. Cal's Kindred Paul was kicked out early in the third and with three Golden Bears guarding the cage, Berggren used her dominant left hand to muscle it in and put the Cardinal up a pair.

Wright skipped one in from beyond five meters for the hosts before Raney rose and fired from just to the left of mid-tank at 4:21 in the third to make it 8-6 Stanford. At 1:37, Aria Fischer took the ball down the right side, crossed it to sister Makenzie on the left and the elder Fischer sister rifled it past Tagg at the near post to give the Cardinal a three-goal edge.

Kat Klass would add two more back-to-back following a successful Carla Carrega penalty to give the Cardinal is largest lead, 11-7, early in the fourth. The junior went to the near side with 13 seconds left in the third for her first and took a pinpoint pass from Berggren with 7:29 on the clock in the fourth before beating Tagg again to the goalkeeper's right.

Carrega and Anna Illes would each score inside to pull the Golden Bears within two late. Stanford ended the scoring on a nearly identical play to the one that freed up Kat Klass for her second score. This time Katie Dudley was the beneficiary of Berggren's on-target feed with 2:56 to go to close it out, 12-9.

A Jordan Raney field block with 1:23 left sent a Cal shot up and over the cage and the Cardinal was able to run out the clock on its final couple of possessions.

Hermann made 11 saves, her most since stopping 13 in a victory over USC on Feb. 25. Cal was successful on just one of its seven power-play opportunities. Stanford converted at a 50-percent clip (3-6) in its 6-on-5 chances.

Wright put Cal up first with a goal as the shot clock was about to expire early in the opening frame. Makenzie Fischer evened it with a skip less than two minutes later. Stanford shut down the Bears' first 6-on-5 chance, but Brigit Mulder converted the second to momentarily push Cal in front, 2-1. Cassidy Wiley scored on lob for the Cardinal with less than 30 seconds to go in the first quarter and it was 2-2 after one.

Dora Antal would score Cal's next two goals before the Cardinal began its second-quarter charge.