USC scored two goals within 30 seconds of each other in the final 12 minutes of play to rally past 13th-ranked Stanford, 11-10, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Rachel Ozer had two goals and recorded an assist for the Cardinal (6-2 MPSF, 12-3 overall), which fell into third place in the competitive conference. Menlo School grad Michaela Michael, a freshman at USC, tallied two goals for the Trojans.
Stanford can still claim the No. 2 seed for the upcoming MPSF tournament with a victory on Thursday over visiting California (4 p.m.) and a Denver victory over Oregon. The top two seeds earn a bye in the first round of the tournament, which begins Thursday, May 1 in Denver and decides the automatic bid into the NCAAs.
The Ducks are 6-1 in conference play, a game behind Denver (8-0), with two matches to play. The Pioneers play in Eugene on Friday at 6 p.m.
California, despite its 2-5 conference mark, has proven to be a dangerous team for the Cardinal. The Bears beat the Trojans earlier in the season.
Stanford holds the tie-breaker with Oregon, with the Cardinal beating the Ducks in their MPSF meeting.
Stanford trailed, 6-3, with 5:32 remaining to play in the first half before scoring four unanswered goals to take a 7-6 advantage in the first two minutes of the second half.
Anna Kim sparked the rally, scoring in a man-up situation. Kelsey Murray scored in the final minute of the half to close the gap to 6-5.
Alex Poplawski scored her 23rd goal of the season 1:25 into the second half to knot the game at 6, and Ozer gave the Cardinal the lead 32 seconds later, with an assist from Murray.
It was a see-saw battle the rest of the way, with the Trojans eventually opening a one-goal lead midway through the second half.
Lucy Dikeou scored to tie the game at 9 and Kyle Fraser put Stanford ahead with 13:53 left, setting up USC's final two goals.
All three of Stanford's losses this season have been by a single goal.
Three Stanford gymnasts combined for four top-10 finishes Sunday at the NCAA Individual Championships in Alabama
Kristina Vaculik, Samantha Shapiro and Shona Morgan qualified to the event finals with top-four finishes during the NCAA Session I Semifinals on Friday. Each earned First Team All-America honors.
Stanford had a great showing on bars with all three gymnasts earning top-10 finishes. Shapiro earned a 9.925 to place second, followed by Vaculik in third with a 9.900. It is the first time Stanford had two gymnasts earn top-three results in the same event at the Individual Event Finals.
"They were as steady as they always are but where they really stood out was their artistry, their lines and toe-points," Cardinal coach Kristen Smyth said.
Shapiro's second-place finish is the second of her collegiate career after earning the same result in 2012. Her score of 9.925 on bars is tied for the second-highest of any Stanford gymnast at the NCAA meet.
"She showed incredible leadership as a junior going into her senior year, and showed grit and confidence," said Smyth. "To see her perform the way she did today was pretty special."
Morgan, normally Stanford's leadoff performer on bars, fittingly led off the event and scored 9.8375 to finish ninth.
It was an impressive performance for the trio which competed early in the finals rotations, filling the first, third and fourth slots. However, each gymnast was able to score well enough for their results to hold throughout the competition.
Vaculik capped the afternoon with a 9.875 on beam to finish seventh. Her 9.875 on beam is tied for the third-highest of any Stanford gymnast at the NCAA meet.
"She's a leader in every way and it was great to see her perform the way she does in practice every day," said Smyth. "She's always the hardest worker in the gym and leads by example. She earned it and deserves it."
The top-ranked Stanford varsity eight finished first in a race against No. 4 Boston University and No. 5 Wisconsin on Sunday to conclude its weekend in Boston.
Strong headwinds slowed down the racing on the Charles when Stanford took second to Harvard on Saturday, but Sunday there was a strong tailwind. Even with faster times, the water was still very choppy to row in.
"The water was rough with rolling white caps," Stanford coach Al Acosta said. "In challenging conditions like that, there is potential for things to go wrong, but all three teams fought through it and had good races. We were determined today to get things right today and saw improvements."
After coming in second to No. 2 Harvard-Radcliffe on Saturday, the Cardinal 1V8 looked to improve its performance as they took on Boston University and Wisconsin.
Stanford started off the race in the lead and never stopped moving. They were able to slowly build upon the lead while the Terriers and Badgers fought for second and third. The Cardinal crossed the finish line in 6:39.2 for the win.
"We felt better today and everyone had drive and focus," said Cardinal junior Alicia Kapjian-Pitt. "Losing yesterday wasn't fun, but it might have been good for us because losing can sometimes teach you more than winning can. It is better for that to happen early in the season so we have time to fix things we need to."
Stanford concluded its spring regular season with a first-place finish at the Boston Dinghy Cup.
The Cardinal recorded 241 points across three divisions to place atop the field of 17 teams. Tufts finished second with 249 points, followed by Yale (250) and Dartmouth (316).
Kevin Laube and Yuri Namikawa raced to a second-place result in division-A with 82 points. The duo registered 11 top-10 finishes in 14 races, including eight results in the top-five.
Oliver Toole, Reinier Eenkema Van Dijk, Carolyn Ortel and Nicolette Obel combined for a fifth-place finish in division-B with 97 points. The group earned 11 top-10 placements and five top-five results.
Mateo Vargas and Tally Buckstaff tallied 62 points in division-C to place first. The pair cruised to five victories and recorded nine top-five finishes overall.
The Cardinal travels to Hawaii this weekend for the Coed PCCSC Championship.