UCLA Women's Water Polo Begins Quest for 120
The Bruins will look to win UCLA's 120th NCAA title this weekend.
The UCLA women’s water polo team is hosting this year’s NCAA Tournament. All games are being played at the Spieker Aquatics Center on the UCLA campus. The Bruins are seeded third in this year’s tournament as a result of losing to Stanford in the MPSF Semifinals but defeating Arizona State in the Third Place Game, 12-7.
The tournment actually began yesterday with two preliminary games. In the first game, Marist defeated Salem, 9-8, while Fresno State beat Cal Lutheran, 15-7 in the second game.
As a result, Marist faced top-seeded Southern Cal earlier today and the Trojans crushed the Red Foxes, 24-5. Meanwhile, Fresno State advanced to play second-seed Stanford and the Cardinal defeated the Bulldogs, 16-9. But, before that, four-seed Arizona State played Michigan and the Sun Devils topped the Wolverines, 9-5. The official UCLA website has a Tournament Central page set up with links to live stats and live video for all of the tournament action.
Last Time Out
Back on May 2 in the MPSF Third Place Game against Arizona State, the Bruins picked up the game-winning goal when Lexi Liebowitz scored for the second time in the third quarter, putting the ball in the net with just four seconds left in the period. It gave the Bruins an 8-5 lead heading into the fourth and the Sun Devils couldn’t overcome that deficit.
Up till that point, UCLA had scored three goals in the first with Bella Baia, Val Ayala and Hannah Palmer scoring three consecutive goals to before Arizona State could find the back of the Bruins’ net. The Sun Devils did eventually score once in the first and the Bruins led 3-1 after the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to ASU as the Sun Devils added two more goals to tie the game 3-3 before Ava Johnson re-took the lead for UCLA. Arizona State got a late goal to tie the game 4-4 at the half.
The Bruins exploded for five goals in the third. Annaliese Miller and Liebowitz put UCLA ahead 6-4 before ASU netted their only goal in the quarter. Roxy Wheaton gave the Bruins a 2-point edge again before Palmer and Liebowitz picked up their second goals.
Baia, Abbi Hill and Bella Wentzel each added insurance goals in the fourth as UCLA cruised to a 12-7 win.
Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine
The Rainbow Wahine earned their spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament as the Big West Champions. Hawai’i played an interesting schedule this season. They played UC Irvine five times including the Big West Tournament and they won all five games. They also played Long Beach State three times and won all three games. They beat UC Davis twice as well. They haven’t lost since their season opener against UC San Diego, though they split the two games they played against the Tritons.
It’s impossible to know how good this Hawai’i team really is because of the lack of teams — and lack of top quality teams — they have played, but given that their schedule consisted of second tier teams, I expect the Bruins will win tonight. It’s just a question of “By how much?”
NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament Quarterfinals
Opponents: #3 UCLA Women’s Water Polo (13-4) vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine (11-1)
When: 6:00 pm PT, Friday, May 14, 2021
Where: Spieker Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stream: NCAA.com
Live Stats: TheFosh.net