Hawaii was 2 seconds from water polo glory last night at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatics Complex. Two seconds too many.
Third-ranked Southern California caught the fifth-ranked Rainbow Wahine at 4 on Joelle Bekhazi’s second goal with 0:02 showing in regulation. The Trojans passed UH for the first time all night on Patricia Jansco’s goal with 37 seconds left in the second overtime period to win 5-4.
Great home-opener, great crowd, great game, great disappointment for the Wahine (10-5), looking for their first win over USC in five years.
"That’s tough," UH coach Michel Roy said. "Maybe a half a second of lack of concentration. We played great. We played our game. We played disciplined. We have a shot to go all the way."
There are probably five teams in the country saying that, and all are in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Hawaii, now 2-1 in the MPSF, upset second-ranked Cal and fourth-ranked UCLA in the midst of its three road trips to open the season. It lost to USC 9-7 in the fourth match of the year. Stanford is ranked No. 1.
For the first 37 minutes last night, with 400 fans screaming, the Wahine never trailed. Senior Leonie Van Der Molen took a pass from Dagmar Genee inside and put UH ahead 1-0 on its second possession. The Trojans (12-3, 3-1 MPSF) tied it on Bekhazi’s first goal with 4:47 left in the first period.
Hawaii got the only score of the second period on freshman Kelly McKee’s penalty shot. Sophomore Amarens Genee put UH up 3-2 with 1:32 left in the third period. Her skip shot splashed in to make it 4-3 with 4:41 to go in regulation.
In between, senior Serena Bredin was brilliant in goal for Hawaii. She finished with 15 saves, two coming in the final 4:11.
It was the final 2 seconds that did the Wahine in. They held the ball until the shot clock expired with 12 seconds left. USC called time and got the ball to Bekhazi 7 meters out. Her shot found the back right of the net.
"We were in very good control, we played great, but you can never rest," Roy said. "These are MPSF games. You win by one or you lose by one."
Both teams went scoreless in the first 3-minute OT period. Jansco broke the drought, and the Wahine’s hearts, by sneaking in the winning goal. Hawaii never got a shot off in its last possession.
"We’re a contender, we’re there," Roy said. "You really got to put the ball in when it’s time to. We had some opportunities.
"It all comes down to what happens in the MPSF (Championship). If you’re the top 3-4 in the MPSF, you go to the NCAA, so it’s beating them at the right time."
Hawaii plays exhibitions against the Canadian national team tonight and Monday at 6 p.m.