To say that the USC women’s water polo team has gotten off to a strong start this season might be the understatement of the year.The squad has sped off to an undefeated 16-0 record, but the undefeated mark isn’t even the most impressive stat about this historic beginning. The margin of victory against ranked opponents is an absurd 7.5 goals per game. That includes victories against then-top-ranked Stanford, current No. 3 Arizona State and crosstown rival No. 4 UCLA.The Women of Troy continued their dominance this past Saturday at No. 8 Hawai’i, winning the contest 15-7 behind a strong second half led by junior Monica Vavic — who scored four goals during the third quarter alone — and junior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who recorded 12 total saves.Juniors Colleen O’Donnell, Hannah Buckling and co-captain Kaleigh Gilchrist each added two goals. Freshmen Annie Espar and Emilie Myers, sophomore Eike Daube, senior Constance Hiller and junior Kelly Mendoza also tacked on a goal apiece to secure the victory.In light of their efforts, Vavic and Espar were named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation players of the week, and Buckling earned MPSF newcomer of the week honors.With this high-powered and unselfish offense, it’s not surprising to see USC at the top of both the MPSF standings and the national rankings. These accolades, however, have not been enough to satisfy this driven group.“We’re always reminding ourselves of the big picture,” Gilchrist said. “Our goal is to win the NCAA national championship.”It certainly seems as if the Women of Troy are more than capable of achieving that goal this season. Led by Vavic, who is leading the conference with more than three goals a game, the offense is full of weapons that can score at any time, often in bunches.Along with this offensive prowess, however, the team knows that it will also have to keep opponents out of the net in order to remain successful. Senior co-captain Dominique Sardo in particular understands the importance of a strong defense.“The offense will come,” Sardo said. “But if we focus on defense, that’s what’s going to get us [to the championship].”Anchored in the goal by Bolonyai, the defense has come to play this season, holding opponents to an average of 4.9 goals per game. Compared to the pace the Women of Troy set on offense — an average of 15.8 goals per game — this year’s team seems to have found a formula that works.This Saturday, USC heads up north to Bakersfield, where it will face two unranked opponents in Cal State Bakersfield and Brown University. CSU Bakersfield (8-17) has not won a game yet in MPSF conference play, and Brown (11-11) is leaving its home in Providence, R.I., to take on the Women of Troy in a non-conference matchup. Though the opponents aren’t ranked nationally, the team knows not to take them lightly.“Every game, we have to come in with the same mentality,” Gilchrist said. “Whether it’s a No. 1 seed or not, we’re going to go in and take care of business.”Playing two games in the same day is nothing new for this squad, which has played 12 of its 16 previous games in the doubleheader format. Against their Saturday opponents, the Women of Troy hold a combined 7-0 all-time record, including a 23-5 win over CSU Bakersfield last season at home.As USC moves into its last few games of the regular season, fans should keep an eye on three players as they try to reach the 100-goal mark for their collegiate careers. Vavic (89 goals), Gilchrist (86 goals) and Sardo (82 goals) are all gunning for the milestone before the season ends.On Saturday, the Women of Troy will take on CSU Bakersfield at noon and follow that up against the Brown Bears immediately afterwards at 1:30 p.m.Next week, USC heads to Westchester, Calif., for a match against Loyola Marymount. Two days later, the team faces off against UC Irvine on April 6 before it gets a much-needed week off from play.