Hawai’i water polo dropped by USC in NCAA semi-final

Hawai'i Water Polo // Hawai'i Athletics
Hawai'i Water Polo // Hawai'i Athletics

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The top-seeded USC women’s water polo team proved too much for Hawai’i defeating the No. 4 seed  Rainbow Wahine, 16-9, in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Water Polo semifinals Saturday night at Blodgett Pool on the campus of Harvard University.

USC stopped UH in three previous meetings in the NCAAs—including twice in the semifinals—and the fourth postseason meeting between the teams proved no different. UH (22-10) struck with the first goal of the match, but USC (26-1) answered with seven straight goals and never looked back.

The Trojans—who have outscored its opponents 43-10 in two tournament matches—advanced to Sunday’s finals where they will seek their third NCAA title against No. 2 Stanford. UH, meanwhile, saw its nine-match win streak halted as the team suffered its first loss in more than a month. UH will play in the third-place match against No. 3 UCLA on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. HT).

Paula Chillida Esforzado led UH with four goals for her ninth hat trick of the year. Caity Lopes da Silva added two after scoring a career-high four in UH’s quarterfinal win over UC San Diego. Jayde Appel led USC with three goals, part of a balanced attack that saw six different Trojans score multiple times.

UH couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as sophomore Zoe Respondek put UH up 1-0 just 22 seconds into the match. But an unfazed USC squad took over from there. The Trojans led 6-1 after the first quarter and 10-4 at half. By the time the final quarter rolled round, the Trojans held a 13-5 lead, too deep a hole for UH to come back from.

The 16 goals was the second-highest output by a UH opponent this year and one more than USC scored in a 15-7 win over UH in the teams’ regular-season meeting in Honolulu in March. Senior attacker Monika Eggens was held to just one goal, but moved within one goal of tying the school single-season scoring mark (98).

Scoring By Period
UH                  1          3           1         4          =          9
USC                6          4           3         3          =          16

UH Goals:  Paula Chillida Esforzado (4), Caity Lopes da Silva (2), Zoe Respondek, Monika Eggens, Amarens Genee
USC Goals: Jayde Appel (3), Monica Vavic (2), Kaleigh Gilchrist (2), Anni Espar (2), Nicolina McCall (2), Dominique Sardo (2), Hannah Buckling, Chelsie Silvers, Kelly Mendoza

Saturday’s Results
Consolation: (6) Princeton def. (7) Iona, 12-2
Consolation: (5) UC San Diego def. (8) Pomona-Pitzer, 15-8
Semifinal: (1) USC def. (4) Hawai’i, 16-9
Semifinal: (2) Stanford def. (3) UCLA, 5-3

Sunday’s schedule
7th Place: (7) Iona vs. (8) Pomona-Pitzer, 12:00 pm. ET
5th Place:  (5) UC San Diego vs. (6) Princeton, 1:45 p.m. ET
3rdPlace: (3) UCLA loser vs. (4) Hawai’i, 3:30 p.m. ET
Championship: (1) USC vs. (2) Stanford, 5:15 p.m. ET

*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*

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