No. 3 UCLA Advances to NCAA Semifinals
LOS ANGELES -- No. 3 UCLA (14-4) shook off a slow start at the 2021 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship to post a dominant 12-7 win on Friday evening over Hawai'i (11-2) at Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center. With the win, the Bruins improved to 53-3 all-time against the Rainbow Wahine.
Five Bruins led the team with two goals apiece. That list included juniors Val Ayala, Ava Johnson, and Katrina Drake and seniors Brooke Maxson and Lexi Liebowitz. Ayala (two goals, two assists) and sophomore Hannah Palmer (one goal, three assists) tied for the team-high in scoring with four points. Senior Jahmea Bent got the start in the cage and went the distance, recording nine saves while allowing seven goals.
Lot Stertefeld opened the scoring in the first period with a cross-cage goal (6:37) for Hawai'i. Then after a contra foul, Ann Inoue put the Rainbow Wahine up 2-0 (3:52) on a counter. The Bruins finally got on the board when Ayala's shot found its way past the UH keeper (0:37) to end the scoring in the first period with Hawai'i leading 2-1.
Liebowitz opened the scoring in the second period with a power play goal off a nice feed from Palmer (7:18) to tie it at 2-2. After Hawai'i took a 3-2 lead, Palmer then led a fastbreak with Ayala on the left side and hit her in stride on a 6-on-5 for her second goal (4:58) to tie it at 3-3. Liebowitz forced a ball under and then converted on a counter for her second goal of the game (1:19) off a feed from sophomore Fiona Kuesis to give UCLA its first lead of the game at 4-3. Maxson ended the scoring in the second period with a nifty lob shot (0:34) to push the Bruins' lead to 5-3 at the break.
Johnson opened the scoring in the third period with a powerful turn and finish at set off a feed from Ayala (7:29) to double up the Rainbow Wahine 6-3. Emma van Rossum scored a power play goal (3:00) to pull UH to within two. But Drake answered with her first score (2:04) off another assist from Palmer to push the lead to 7-4. Drake then set up junior Bella Baia for a score at even strength (2:04) to make it 8-4. The Bruins pulled their goalie on the last possession of the third to have a 7-on-6 advantage and used it to score with two seconds left with Palmer taking a feed from sophomore Abbi Hill to score, giving UCLA a 9-4 lead heading into the fourth.
Carmen Baringo opened the scoring for Hawai'i in the fourth (7:02) with a power play goal to cut the Bruins' lead to 9-5. UCLA's Maxson then tacked on her second score of the game (6:31) with an exclusion goal to double up UH at 10-5. But Hawai'i trimmed it to three with back-to-back power play goals from van Rossum (5:26) and Libby Gault (4:37) to make it 10-7. Hawai'i would pull their goalie on the final three possessions with UCLA's defense making huge stops and then scoring with an open goal. Drake capitalized with 1:13 to go and Johnson followed suit with 0:36 left to provide the last two goals and the 12-7 final.
Molly DiLalla tended the cage for Hawai'i and had four saves while allowing 10 goals. The final two goals went against No. 10 Lalelei Mata'afa who put on the goalie cap to give UH the man advantage. Stertefeld finished with a hat trick to lead all scorers.
With the win, the Bruins advanced to tomorrow's second semifinal where they will face No. 2 Stanford at 5:00 p.m. PDT at Spieker Aquatics Center.
Hawai'i at No. 3 UCLA (NCAA Quarterfinals - Game 18)
|No. 3 UCLA||1||4||4||3||12|
6x5 - UCLA - 3/7 - UH - 5/12
Penalties - UCLA - 0/0 - UH - 0/0
UH Goals: Lot Stertefeld 3, Emma van Rossum 2, Libby Gault 1, Carmen Baringo 1
UH Saves: Molly DiLalla 4
UCLA Goals: Val Ayala 2, Ava Johnson 2, Katrina Drake 2, Brooke Maxson 2, Lexi Liebowitz 2, Hannah Palmer 1, Bella Baia 1
UCLA Saves: Jahmea Bent 9