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Water Polo Drops Heartbreaker to No. 2 UCLA in OT

Apr 2, 2022

LOS ANGELES, Calif. No. 9 Sun Devil Water Polo (13-10, 1-3) jumped out to an early lead against the No. 2 UCLA Bruins (22-2, 4-1), but a late surge from the MPSF foe was enough to take the game into overtime, where the Sun Devils eventually fell 11-9. Vanda Baksa led all scorers with four goals on the day while tacking on two assists to continue her dominant freshman campaign. ASU will continue conference play at home next weekend when the No. 3 USC Trojans come to town on April 9 at 1:00 pm MST. 

Despite getting called for 13 exclusions to the Bruins' eight, each team netted five power play goals in the contest. 

Interim Head Coach Petra Pardi spoke of the close defeat, "It was an incredible team effort. The girls played with so much heart and I'm very proud of all of them!"

To open the game, Blaire McDowell struck first for ASU, but UCLA managed to even the game at one. Emma Fraser's lob shot made it a 2-1 game after the first quarter which was just the third time this season UCLA has scored one goal in the opening frame. 

In the second, Amira Van Buren drew a penalty, and Vanda Baksa's made penalty shot gave ASU the 3-1 lead. Another quick goal for Vanda gave ASU a 4-1 lead, meanwhile the first goal for UCLA of the quarter came with under 3 minutes remaining. Baksa got her third goal before halftime which was good for her 9th straight game with 3+ goals. UCLA made a penalty shot with a minute remaining to pull within 2 at the half. 

The UCLA surge started in the third when they scored the first two goals of the frame to even the game at five around the midway mark of the third quarter. Fraser was called for an exclusion and UCLA managed to get the PPG for the 6-5 lead. Van Buren drew a Bruins exclusion with 35 seconds remaining, and Kekesi got ASU on the board in the third to even the game at six headed into the final frame. 

UCLA scored first in the fourth, and Vanda's fourth goal tied it back up. Kiss gave ASU the lead and with 1:17 remaining Musselman's only goal of the day tied it back up for UCLA. The last few possessions were a defensive battle, and UCLA had the final possession of the fourth, and Vanda Baksa got arguably her most important field block of the year, after stopping what would have been the game winner. 8-8 game at the end of 4. 

In OT1, UCLA scored on their opening possession to take the 9-8 lead. Kiss lasered a ball to tie it back at 9, and Malia Allen got her second goal for UCLA to take the 10-9 lead with 18 seconds remaining. ASU was whistled for an offense to end the first OT period. In OT2 UCLA got on the board first and managed to get their first two goal lead of the day while keeping ASU off the board in the final OT period to secure the overtime win.