April 7, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
Down three goals to No. 3 USC and with its back to the wall late, second-ranked Stanford women's water polo roared back to stun the Trojans with a 9-8 overtime win Saturday at Avery Aquatic Center.
The win was the eighth in a row for Stanford (19-1, 5-0 MPSF), which completes its four-game homestand with The Big Splash next Saturday against California at 4 p.m. Next Saturday's contest will also serve as Senior Day. With California's 8-6 win over No. 1 UCLA Saturday afternoon, the Cardinal moves into first place in the MPSF standings with two games remaining.
USC fell to 18-4 overall and completed MPSF play at 5-2.
Goalie Kate Baldoni and the Stanford defense came up huge in multiple pressure-packed moments. Baldoni made 16 saves while the field defense clamped down on the Trojans on two do-or-die occasions, the first forcing overtime and the second preserving the win.
Offensively, Kaley Dodson netted a hat trick, including the eventual game-winner scored 53 seconds into the first overtime period. Alyssa Lo scored two key second-half goals, while individual goals were scored by Jillian Garton, Ashley Grossman, Pallavi Menon and Kiley Neushul.
Stanford was pushed to the edge with 2:21 to go in the third period Saturday, as USC's Madeline Rosenthal scored the Trojans' fourth straight goal to put them ahead 6-3. Desperately needing to stop the USC momentum, the Cardinal broke its scoring drought with Dodson's second goal of the game on the ensuing possession following Rosenthal's score.
After a few stops on the defensive end, the Cardinal offense dealt the Trojans another setback as Lo found daylight at the inside post and fired home past USC goalie Flora Bolonyai as the third-period buzzer sounded, cutting the deficit to one at 6-5.
Colleen O'Donnell got the Trojans back on the board with 6:46 to play, putting USC back up by a pair at 7-5. Yet once more, Stanford answered right back, this time as Neushul fired home 21 seconds later. After a defensive stop, Lo netted her second at 5:49 to tie things up at 7-7.
Neither offense could break through over the next three minutes, but Stanford got a golden opportunity with 3:50 to play. Grossman drew a five-meter penalty going after a rebound, and Neushul stepped up to take the shot. In the movement of Neushul and USC players getting into position for the penalty, the whistle was blown to resume play. However, Neushul hesitated, and the officials awarded possession back to the Trojans, and the game remained knotted at 7-7.
The defenses continued to hold, with the Cardinal stopping the Trojans with nearly 30 seconds left. As Baldoni took possession and played a pass to midtank, the pass was contested just as Stanford called for a timeout. While both coaches pleaded their case for possession, the officials met and determined that the pass was not in Stanford's possession when the timeout was called, and the ball was awarded to the Trojans with 21 seconds left.
The Cardinal defense dug in, however, jumping the Trojan offense and preventing them from even getting a shot off as regulation came to a close. The momentum continued right into the first three-minute overtime frame, as Grossman and Dodson scored in the opening 53 seconds to give Stanford a 9-7 lead.
Rosenthal would score her third for USC, bringing the Trojans to within one at 9-8, but that would end up being it for either team's offense for the day. The defenses took over for the final 4:33, with Stanford again smothering USC on the final possession with 15 seconds left as Lo knocked away the final shot before it could reach Baldoni.
The defensive stop ended what had been a game of runs. USC opened the contest with goals from Rosenthal and Kaleigh Gilchrist over the opening 3:31 to take a quick 2-0 lead.
Stanford answered with Garton's goal at 2:51, before completing a 3-0 run to take a one-goal lead after Dodson and Menon scored in the second frame. Yet USC would make its 4-0 run bridging the end of the first half and beginning of the second to go up 6-3 and set the stage for the Cardinal's comeback.
USC - 2 2 2 1 1-0 = 8
Stanford - 1 2 2 2 2-0 = 9
Stanford Goal Scorers: K. Dodson 3, A. Lo 2, Garton, Grossman, Menon, Neushul
USC Goal Scorers: Rosenthal 3, McCall 2, O'Donnell 2, Gilchrist
Goalie Saves: Baldoni 16 (S); Bolonyai 10 (USC)