The NCAA women’s water polo season was once again punctuated by a game featuring made-for-movie melodrama. USC recovered from a two-goal Stanford onslaught – which tied the match at seven – in the final 41 seconds with a heroic pinpoint shot from distance that put the Trojans on top for good with six seconds remaining.
Stephania Haralabidis scored five times but will be remembered most for the gutsy, improbable strike from nearly half-tank that won a fifth national title for USC and derailed plans for a repeat championship by their rivals from Nor Cal.
More from Kevin Danna of the Pac-12 Network.
The Trojans went ahead 7-5 with 52 seconds remaining thanks to a late shot-clock goal from team captain Brianna Daboub, but MPSF Newcomer of the Year Kat Klass responded with two goals in the next 41 seconds for the Cardinal, the last one deflecting off a USC defender to make it 7-7 with 11 seconds remaining. Off the restart, Haralabidis fired a shot from beyond 10 meters that beat Stanford goalkeeper Julia Hermann, and Jordan Raney’s Hail Mary-heave at the horn was stymied by Trojan goalkeeper Amanda Longan.
The crazy ending just adds to a recent list of wild finishes in NCAA women’s water polo title game history. USC outlasted Stanford in triple sudden death OT in 2013 in the longest NCAA women’s water polo title game ever played (45 minutes, 47 seconds), while Stanford defeated UCLA in the 2015 national championship game on a penalty shot with 11 seconds left after UCLA called timeout without having possession.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) May 16, 2016
— Stanford Water Polo (@Stanfordh2opolo) May 16, 2016
— Kaleigh Gilchrist (@KGilchrist15) May 16, 2016
Championship Day Recap | NCAA.com
USC Captures 2016 NCAA Championship In Epic Finish | USCTrojans.com
One Short in Frantic Final | GoStanford.com
USC women score in final seconds for national title, perfect season | OCRegister.com
Cardinal women denied a third straight water polo title | PaloAltoOnline.com