Top-Ranked USC Women’s Water Polo Takes First Loss Of 2021 in Regular-Season Finale
WESTWOOD, CALIF. — The No. 1 USC women's water polo team took its first loss of the year in a regular-season finale at No. 3 UCLA. The Trojans were off-kilter throughout today's game, struggling to come up with the goals they needed to keep pace with the host Bruins in a 13-6 loss after having beaten UCLA 5-3 yesterday. Now 17-1 overall and wrapping MPSF play at 11-1, USC remains the undisputed top seed for the coming MPSF Tournament.
USC had won 23 straight games until today's defeat in a streak that stretched back to the shortened 2020 season, in which the Trojans went 12-1 with their lone loss coming to UCLA on Feb. 9, 2020. USC would avenge that loss with a resounding win over the Bruins two weeks later.
In today's MPSF finale in Westwood, USC suffered a scoreless third period, enabling the Bruins to expand their 5-3 halftime lead. USC had drummed up the opening goal on a 5-meter penalty shot drawn by Maud Megens and converted by Denise Mammolito. UCLA would answer by scoring three straight to maneuver into the lead, although USC was able to draw one back on a late strike from Bayley Weber to make it 3-2 entering the second. After six minutes of a defensive stalemate, UCLA got another to go at 2:03, only to see Julia Janov feed Megens for a sizzler on a 6-on-5 to make it 4-3. UCLA would be granted a late 5-meter penalty shot, however, converting to go up 5-3 just before halftime.
After that third-period slump, USC was behind 9-3 entering the fourth, and the Trojans were just unable to make up ground as the Bruins had a goal at-hand for each USC goal in the final frame. Grace Tehaney, Sophia Lucas and Mammolito would all break through the Bruin defense in the final eight minutes, but UCLA would emerge with the 13-6 win.
As the top seed in the 2021 MPSF Tournament, USC secures a first-round bye and will await its opponent for a May 1 semifinal. The MPSF championship is set for 2 p.m. on May 2. Arizona State is the host of the event, which runs April 30-May 2 at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe, Ariz.
#3 UCLA 13, #1 USC 6
April 25, 2021 | Spieker Aquatics Center (Westwood, Calif.)
USC 2 - 1 - 0 - 3 = 6
UCLA 3 - 2 - 4 - 4 = 13
USC — Denise Mammolito 2, Bayley Weber, Maud Megens, Grace Tehaney, Sophia Lucas.
UCLA — Val Ayala 4, Hannah Palmer 2, Abbi Hill, Bella Wentzel, Annelise Miller, Malia Allen, Katrina Drake, Brooke Maxson, Lexi Liebowitz.
SAVES: Holly Parker (USC) 7, Georgia Phillips (UCLA) 11.