Moon, USC Women Overcome Circumstance and Hawai’i to Extend Winning Streak to 36

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A comforting constant for USC is Amanda Longans, the country's pre-eminent collegiate goalie. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Saturday night at Duke Kahanamoka Aquatic Center in Honolulu was not just another night for the top-ranked USC women’s water polo team, but it was more of the same over the past year, as the Trojans—behind interim Head Coach Casey Moon—extended a winning streak that has spanned 36 straight over two seasons.

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New USC Interim Head Coach Casey Moon last year with Victoria Chamorro. Photo Courtesy: USC Athletics

Outside of winning, everything related to Southern California’s women’s and men’s polo is breaking new ground, now that Jovan Vavic, the Trojans’ leader for a quarter century, was indicted in a federal sting operation into illegal payments for admission to top American universities. After being arrested in Waikiki last Wednesday by the FBI, Vavic is out on bail and scheduled for a court appearance next Monday in Boston’s federal court.

[After a Quarter Century in Troy, Jovan Vavic Fired as USC Men’s & Women’s Head Water Polo Coach]

One indicator that USC will continue its prolific winning—despite Vavic’s abrupt removal, fired by Interim President Wanda M. Austin, also on Wednesday—was Maud Megens. The junior striker from the Netherlands torched the Hawai’i defense for five goals as the Trojans sprinted out to an 11-4 lead at the end of the third quarter, then held on for a 12-8 victory over the #5 Rainbow Wahine.

Chipping in two goals apiece for Interim Head Coach Casey Moon were sophomore Paige Hauschild and freshman sensation Alejandra Aznar, who upped her season total to an impressive 28 goals. Amanda Longan, the reigning National Player of the Year, stopped nine shots in the USC cage.

Senior Irene Gonzalez contributed her hat-trick to Hawai’i’s total; she was joined by Elyse Lemay-Lavoie’s two goals. Gonzalez, in her final season at Hawai’i, now has 210 goals in her career, good for third all-time in the Rainbow Wahine record books, 28 goals behind Kelly Mason, who graduated in 2009.

Despite being hastily elevated as the leader of the women’s program, Saturday night’s win was not Coach Moon’s first-ever as the Trojan head coach. Last year during the NCAA quarterfinals he was pressed into service because Vavic had been red-carded in the finals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, arguing calls as his Trojans captures a 13-12 overtime decision against Stanford.

USC Women's Water Polo hosts China at Uytengsu Aquatics Center for an exhibition match.

Freshman Alejandra Aznar. Photo Courtesy: John McGillen

Given the circumstances surrounding Moon’s unlikely elevation to leading USC’s women’s polo program, there was no mention on the USC website of the coaching milestone that took place Saturday night.

Swimming World, which covered last year’s NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament, just happened to be on hand at the press conference after Moon’s very first NCAA win as a head coach. Predictably, he heaped praise to his former mentor, but there was also an honesty that in hindsight is revealing.

It’s also absolutely certain that no one could have predicted the turnabout that led to an assistant of 11 years taking control of women’s polo from Jovan Vavic, now a disgraced ex-Trojan.

– Casey Moon on Friday, May 11th, following top-seeded USC’s 12-5 win over Wagner in NCAA quarterfinal action:

I think for him [Vavic], he trusts in myself, but ultimately his players. He will be the first one to tell you [that] he knows the ins and outs of his players, and he knows the pulse of his team.

We told him before the game today: there’s going to ebb and flow for sure. Learn how to control your emotions and don’t scoreboard watch.

We tell him: No need to watch the scoreboard. They’re gonna go on a run, we’re gonna go on a run. It’s all about the next possession.

For me it’s a little weird—I’m gonna be honest! For the 11 years I’ve been here I’ve never had the opportunity to be a head coach in an NCAA water polo game. We’ve always had our leader there in Jovan. He’s prepared me if some instance happens where if I need to take over the team, he’s done an incredible job preparing [me] and the rest of the coaching staff to be able to take over.

I’m fortunate and grateful that I have a mentor in Jovan. There’s nobody out there… he’s so passionate about water polo [and] so passionate about winning.

We want that with our players and it comes down from the head man, which is him as well as our coaching staff and goes down to his players.

Vavic was in the stands that past May, watching his team perform and knowing he’d return the next day. Now, everyone’s one looking over Moon’s and his Trojan’s shoulders—except for their former coach, who has lengthy legal battles to contend with.