Did it With Defense
LOS ANGELES - Sparked by a quick offensive start and arguably its most impressive defensive performance of the season, No. 2 Stanford defeated No. 3 UCLA 13-7 on Saturday in the semifinals of the MPSF Championship.
Stanford (21-2, 5-1 MPSF) booked a spot in Sunday's final at 2:30 p.m. against either host USC or California with the conference's automatic NCAA bid on the line. The Cardinal is seeking its sixth MPSF title overall but only its first since 2014.
Stanford collected its third win of the season over UCLA (23-4, 4-2 MPSF) thanks once again to a stingy defense. The Cardinal, which surrendered only nine goals in each of the first two meetings, limited the Bruins to 26.9 percent shooting and a 2-14 mark on the power play.
Meanwhile, MPSF Player of the Year Maddie Musselman was held scoreless for only the second time this season, as the Cardinal defense turned away chance after chance in support of Maya Avital, who finished with 10 saves and moved into eighth on the Cardinal's all-time single-season list with 177.
Makenzie Fischer and Ryann Neushul led the way with three goals apiece while Jewel Roemer and Sophie Wallace chipped in with two. Stanford's all-time leading scorer with 276 career goals, Makenzie Fischer now ranks fifth overall in MPSF history while her 71 goals this season is tied for fourth on the Cardinal's all-time list.
The Cardinal scored the game's first four goals, including back-to-back tallies from Neushul, before the Bruins finally got on the board with 21 seconds left in the first period.
UCLA gained some ground in the second period but Stanford maintained a 7-5 cushion at halftime.
Leading 9-6 entering the final quarter, Wallace scored back-to-back goals to give Stanford an 11-6 advantage at the 6:03 mark of the fourth.
Eleanor Facey continued her strong play this weekend, rounding out the action with just over a minute left and putting the Cardinal ahead 13-7.
Stanford Goals: Makenzie Fischer (3), Ryann Neushul (3), Jewel Roemer (2), Sophie Wallace (2), Eleanor Facey (1), Aria Fischer (1), Katie Lyons (1)