Defense shines through against Aztecs

first_imgThe No. 1 USC women’s water polo team extended its winning streak to 12 games this Saturday with a 9-4 victory over the visiting No. 14 San Diego State Aztecs.With another dominating effort, the Women of Troy (14-1, 3-0) avoided an upset like those so far in the NCAA basketball tournament. Though ranked, the Aztecs (16-11, 0-5) were winless in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference play. Accordingly, San Diego State posed little threat to a USC team that appears to just be tuning up for an inevitable clash with No. 2 Stanford at season’s end.USC’s last line of defense, senior goalie Tumua Anae was stingy between the pipes, recording 12 saves.Led by their usual diverse scoring attack, six different players scored at least once, with senior driver Kally Lucas, junior two-meter Sarah Van Norman and junior driver Joelle Bekhazi each scoring twice. The number of scoring options on the team continues to impress, as it prevents opposing defenses from keying in on specific players.With 2:12 left in the third quarter, the Women of Troy had amassed an insurmountable 9-1 lead.The final score wound up being a more palatable 9-4 defeat for the Aztecs after San Diego State scored two goals with three minutes left in the game — a point at which USC coach Jovan Vavic had substituted in most of his reserves.Generally, Vavic refuses to allow his team to rest on its laurels, but, after this game, even he was uncertain where the team could improve defensively — even marginally. Having stressed defensive intensity all season long, Vavic has seen his players execute and lead the NCAA in goals against average.“We played good defense again and controlled the tempo,” Vavic said. “Our five-on-six play was excellent. We didn’t give up any goals.”Offensively, Vavic thought the production left a little to be desired. Although nine goals is plenty Vavic knows that his players cannot continue failing to capitalize on great scoring opportunities.Although missed shots might not have mattered against the Aztecs, against other tougher opponents it could prove to be a problem.“Sometimes we look awesome, like against Long Beach State,” Vavic said. “However, two days later we play San Diego State and look average. We have to improve on our shooting.”Such level-headed leadership keeps this team grounded.For successful teams, often the biggest obstacle is not allowing overconfidence to disrupt their focus. The Women of Troy have struck the perfect balance.With some easier opponents on the docket, the No. 1 USC women’s water polo team will not be fully challenged for at least another week. They will, however, be wise to use this time to perfect their shot-making abilities.The Women of Troy next hit the pool in a non-conference home game against Brown this Thursday at 5 p.m.last_img

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