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No. 4 UCLA Edges UC Irvine, 8-7, at NCAA Tournament

May 6, 2022
Katrina Drake (photo by Deanna Wentzel)

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Katrina Drake scored three goals and Malia Allen added two goals to lift the No. 4-seed UCLA women's water polo team past UC Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at Canham Natatorium.
Drake scored the game-winner with 5:09 to play in the final quarter as UCLA (24-5) held UC Irvine (22-7) scoreless over the final period.
UC Irvine had one final opportunity to tie the game, pulling goalkeeper Jordan Frost after calling timeout with 33 seconds to play. Isabel Rack's shot attempt with four seconds remaining was saved by UCLA goalkeeper Georgia Phillips, who finished the contest with 12 saves and one steal.
With the win, the Bruins advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 1-seed Stanford on Saturday. Game time will be 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) at Michigan's Canham Natatorium. The Bruins moved to the NCAA Tournament's semifinal round for the 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament (last missing out on the semifinals in 2010).

"First, credit to Irvine," said UCLA head coach Adam Wright. "They really played loose and they wanted it. From an intensity standpoint, we played tight the whole time and they didn't. That made it tough on us. We were 5-for-14 [on power plays], had wide open shots where we aren't looking to shoot the ball, or the ball was slipping out of our hand. We played tight. But we are moving on, and that is what's most important at this time of year. We have an opportunity with Stanford tomorrow."
Friday's first-round contest turned into a back-and-forth affair, as UC Irvine took a 4-2 lead at halftime. The Anteaters received a team-leading three goals from Jessica Lynch, including two of those in the first half.
Trailing 4-2 early in the third quarter, the Bruins answered with consecutive goals from Abbi Hill at the 7:39 mark and Val Ayala with 5:08 to play in the period.
UC Irvine took a 5-4 lead with 4:18 to play in the third quarter and UCLA answered just 27 seconds later on Drake's second goal of the afternoon.
From that point in the contest, the Bruins never trailed. Allen tallied the second of her two goals with 2:35 to play in the third quarter, putting UCLA ahead, 6-5.
UC Irvine answered just 15 seconds later on a strike by Elena Flynn.
UCLA capitalized on a power-play opportunity with 2:09 to play in the third, as Maddie Musselman scored to put the Bruins on top, 7-6. With the third-quarter buzzer about to sound, UC Irvine tied the game on a lob shot by Tara Prentice, knotting the contest at 7-7.
Drake's game-winning goal broke the 7-7 tie, midway through the final period.
UCLA converted its final three of seven power-play chances after having opened the contest 1-for-8 on the 6-on-5 opportunity. The Bruins finished the game 4-for-15 on power-play chances.
UC Irvine goalkeeper Jordan Frost finished the contest with eight saves.
Friday's game marked just the second time in which UCLA had faced UC Irvine in the NCAA Tournament. Previously, the two programs competed against each other in the third-place contest of the 2012 NCAA Tournament (UCLA won that game, 10-9).
GAME NOTES: The Bruins have faced Stanford in the semifinal round in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments … UCLA dropped an overtime decision (8-7) to Stanford in the semifinals in 2019 and recorded a 9-7 win in the semifinals last season (against Stanford) … on Friday afternoon, UCLA notched its second win in as many games against UC Irvine this season … previously, the Bruins had recorded a 14-8 victory over UC Irvine on Friday, March 11, at Spieker Aquatics Center (at UCLA).

No. 4-seed UCLA vs. UC Irvine
Ann Arbor, Mich. (Canham Natatorium) 

UC Irvine 1 3 3 0 7
UCLA 2 0 5 1 8

6x5 – UCLA: 4/15, UC Irvine: 2/9
Penalty Shots – UCLA: 0/0, UC Irvine: 0/0

UC Irvine Goals: Jessica Lynch 3, Tara Prentice 2, Elena Flynn, Piper Smith
UC Irvine Saves: Jordan Frost 8

UCLA Goals: Katrina Drake 3, Malia Allen 2, Val Ayala, Abbi Hill, Maddie Musselman
UCLA Saves: Georgia Phillips 12