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No. 7 SDSU Falls to No. 2 USC in MPSF Opener

Leanne Ford scored three times in SDSU's 11-8 loss to USC.
Leanne Ford scored three times in SDSU's 11-8 loss to USC.

Feb. 19, 2011

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SAN DIEGO - No. 7 San Diego State dug itself an early 4-0 hole and could not find its way out of it as the Aztecs dropped their Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener, 11-8, to second-ranked USC Saturday afternoon at Aztec Aquaplex.

The Women of Troy (6-1; 1-0 MPSF) received four early goals before Amber Pezzolla snapped SDSU's drought with 2:49 left in the period. The sophomore utility tallied her first goal of the game with a shot that went cross cage and into the left side of the net. The goal appeared to get the Aztecs going as Ronni Gautschi drew an exclusion and later scored on the 6-on-5 opportunity, which cut their deficit in half.

USC increased its lead to three following a tip-in goal from Madeline Rosenthal, but San Diego State (8-3; 0-1 MPSF) responded 23 seconds later when Leanne Ford slotted her shot into the upper corner. The Women of Troy answered with a Patricia Jancso goal, only to have the Aztecs close the half on a strong note with two goals of their own. First, Jenna Natalizio took a pass from L. Ford and touched it past the USC keeper and then L. Ford scored with seven seconds left as SDSU's power-play chance was expiring.

Southern California made it a 7-5 game with a goal 31 seconds into the third quarter and San Diego State could not get its offense going. The Aztec defense, however, stood tall as goalkeeper Kelly Campoli (12 saves) made a number of big saves, including three on one possession. With just under three minutes left in the frame, L. Ford used a skip shot on another 6-on-5 opportunity to post her third goal of the game, which made it a one-goal game once again at 7-6. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, USC found the back of the net three more times and the home side struggled to score and ultimately entered the final stanza trailing 10-6.

With its back against the wall, SDSU scored to open the period as Pezzolla tallied her second of the game, but at this point, the Aztecs only had five minutes to make up three goals. Despite allowing USC's 11th goal of the game with 4:03 left in the regulation, San Diego State had a golden chance to make a move in the game in the final minutes. After a USC shot ricocheted off the crossbar, the Aztecs had a 2-on-1 fastbreak chance, but Pezzolla's attempt was off the mark and bounced off the crossbar with 2:20 left on the clock. Meaghan Poland took a pass from Sarah Brady and rounded out the scoring with a goal with 28 seconds left to provide the final margin.

L. Ford scored a game-high three goals, which matched her season high, and she now has seven goals in her last three outings. Pezzolla finished with two goals, giving her eight in her last two games, while Gautschi, Natalizio and Poland each scored once. Pezzolla also added three assists.

The Aztecs are back in action Feb. 26 when they take on UC Irvine at the UCI Invitational. First sprint is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. PT.

No. 2 USC 11, No. 7 San Diego State 8
Aztec Aquaplex - San Diego, Calif.

USC 4-2-4-1--11
SDSU 2-3-1-2--8

USC goals: Kristen Dronberger 2, Patricia Jancso 2, Dominique Sardo 2, Sarah Van Norman 2, Joelle Bekhazi, Nadia Dan, Madeline Rosenthal
SDSU goals: Leanne Ford 3, Amber Pezzolla 2, Ronni Gautschi, Jenna Natalizio, Meaghan Poland

USC saves: Flora Bolonyai
SDSU saves: Kelly Campoli - 12