With 2018 NSCAA behind us, Tony Karaman reports from the heart of the strong women championship. It’s been a tense journey with a slow-burning ending. USC and Stanford fought for yet another title.
After a pretty exciting and intense semifinal, the finals of 2018 NCAA brought one of the lowest-scoring championship games since 2009. USC defeated Stanford 5-4 to claim the school’s fifth title.
The first quarter of the match was a slow burn — neither team shook the opponent’s nets. USC didn’t lead the game until the beginning of the fourth quarter. For the rest of the match, the scoreboard changed slow, all until the USC scored for 5:4.
At the end of the match, Stanford had a chance to equalize, but there was an offensive foul and a block, leaving the USC on top of the match.
Stanford and USC have won each of the last eight national championships, and Stanford has three of the last four, including last year. This year’s title goes to USC, who last had one back in 2016.
The tournament’s top seed and host of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the USC women’s water polo team made a power move into the title match with a decisive 10-6 win over crosstown rival UCLA in the semifinal at the Trojans’ Uytengsu Aquatics Center. USC turned an early lockup into a six-goal advantage just past halftime as the Trojans controlled this one to take a place in final against No. 2 seed Stanford. Now 25-1 overall, host USC will carry a 15-game win streak into the championship bout, where the Trojans are looking to claim a sixth national crown.
Stanford won their semifinal game against Cal with the final score of 11:7.
USC last won it all in 2016 with a victory over Stanford in that championship game. The Cardinal beat USC in last year’s semifinal en route to the 2017 title.
After the match, we talked to Jovan Vavic, USC coach:
“First quarter was great in defense. We had a little run to score a couple of goals at the end of the first quarter. The goalie was outstanding, Page played excellently.
Overall, our six-on-five was good. The chemistry of our team is really great and we fight for each other. We did what we needed to do to make it to the finals, and now I hope we’re going to finish the job.”
It looks like Vavic got it right, for the USC climbed to the top!