The last time perennial powerhouses USC and Stanford faced off in the pool was on Feb. 23, 2020 when the Trojans ended the Cardinal’s undefeated season in the finals of the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine.
Fast forward to the first few minutes of Saturday’s contest and it looked like Stanford was about to return the favor. Freshman driver Jewel Roemer scored to give the Cardinal an early 2-0 lead. That would be the only lead No. 2 women’s water polo (6-3, 4-3 MPSF) would hold as it fell to the No. 1 Trojans (13-0, 7-0 MPSF) 12-8 at Uytengsu Aquatic Center.
After Roemer scored her second, USC’s Sabrina Garabet scored two of her own to tie the game before another goal by Denise Mammolito gave USC the 3-2 lead. The two teams would trade goals until the score was 5-4 in favor of the Trojans late in the second quarter.
With 36 seconds remaining in the first half, USC head coach Marko Pintaric attempted to call a timeout without full possession of the ball, resulting in a penalty. This awarded a penalty shot to Roemer and Pintaric’s unsuccessful argument against the referee earned him a yellow card. Roemer didn’t score on the penalty shot, but on her second opportunity after junior driver Madison Stamen corralled the rebound.
The small amount of time left in the first half didn’t stop the Trojans, who managed to pull together two goals in under 30 seconds to leave the score 7-5 in their favor at the break. Though the Cardinal was within striking distance of tying the game in the third quarter, Trojans goalkeeper Holly Parker never let it complete the comeback.
Parker logged six saves during the match, along with her four steals, which tied Roemer for the highest on Saturday afternoon. Farther from the goal, USC’s defense managed to limit senior driver Sarah Klass, who led the team in goals this season with 25 at the start of the weekend, to only one score. Klass was not given any room to operate, as both of her shots were difficult with one bouncing off the post and another quickly knocked down.
The wind left the Cardinal’s sails in the fourth quarter when USC strung together three unanswered goals to ice the game. Head coach John Tanner, who also received a yellow card during the contest, will look to avoid similar struggles moving forward if he wants a different result for his squad during Sunday’s rematch, which starts at 1 p.m. PT.