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USC defeats women’s water polo to claim third straight conference title

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No. 2 Stanford (12-5, 8-4 MPSF) had the momentum it needed heading into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) title match. The Cardinal dominated the quarterfinal match against No. 14 Indiana (10-17, 2-13 MPSF) and earned a 13-8 win in the semifinals over a No. 2 UCLA (13-4, 9-3 MPSF) team that was tied with Stanford on the national rankings last week.

But the momentum wasn’t enough to stop No. 1 USC (19-1, 11-1 MPSF) on Sunday, who bested the Cardinal 9-6 in Tempe, Ariz.

The Trojans defense and goalkeeper Holly Parker held Stanford to its lowest-scoring performance of the season, only the third time this season the Cardinal scored fewer than 10 goals.

The last time the two teams faced off, USC forced Stanford to endure a 13-minute scoring drought. The Cardinal endured another one in the MPSF Championship, from the end of the first quarter until the middle of the third. Sunday’s 11-minute drought helped USC turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead.

Sophomore driver Hannah Costandse scored her second goal of the game to end the drought with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. After a goal from USC’s Mireia Guiral, senior driver Sarah Klass responded by scoring a penalty shot to finish the third quarter. It  was the only goal Stanford’s top scorer would earn in Sunday’s contest, as Parker would deny Klass’ other three shots.

The Cardinal started the fourth quarter only down one goal, 5-4, but USC’s Maud Megens prevented any chance of a comeback. A penalty on junior 2-meter defender Chloe Harbilas gave Megens her second goal of the game to double USC’s lead. Two minutes later, Harbilas scored to keep the Cardinal within one, but Megens immediately responded to complete the hat trick. Megens also logged an assist to Kelsey McIntosh, who scored the final two goals for USC to ice the game. Another goal by Harbilas wasn’t enough to stop the Trojans from winning a third-straight conference title.

On Monday, the NCAA selection committee will announce participants in this year’s national championship. After the cancellation of last year’s championship, the Cardinal are still the reigning national champions, and they’ll look to remain champions when the action starts at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center on May 14.

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Michael Espinosa '22 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team, and editor for the University beat and also occasionally writes for sports, arts, and The Grind. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker you will ever meet. Contact him at mespinosa 'at' stanforddaily.com.