UCLA Women's Water Polo Faces Stanford in NCAA Semifinals
The Bruins advanced to tonight's game with a 12-7 win over Hawai'i yesterday.
Last night, the UCLA women’s water polo team defeated Hawai’i, 12-7, to advance to the NCAA Semifinals this evening against the two-seeded Stanford Cardinal. Meanwhile, the Cardinal defeated Fresno State, 16-9.
In the other semifinal earlier today, Southern Cal defeated Arizona State by a final of 10-4, as the Trojans advanced to tomorrow’s national championship game. If UCLA can beat the Cardinal tonight, it would be the second time in a week that the Bruins and Trojans have played for an NCAA title. The other, of course, was the Beach Volleyball Championship, which Southern Cal won.
Last Time Out
The Bruins found themselves in a rare hole last night. That’s because Hawai’i’s Lot Stertefeld scored the first two goals of the game. With just 37 seconds left in the first quarter, Val Ayala finally scored the Bruins’ first goal of the game and halved Hawai’i’s lead.
It wasn’t long before the Bruins tied the game up at 2-2. Lexi Liebowitz got the equalizer just 42 seconds into the second quarter. Hawai’i re-took the lead when Stertefeld scored her third goal of the game 40 seconds later.
But that lead was short-lived.
Val Ayala tied it back up with her second goal of the game and UCLA would never trail again. With 1:19 left in the half and the game still tied, Liebowitz added her second goal to give the Bruins a 4-3 lead. Then, with 34 ticks left in the half, Brooke Maxson doubled UCLA’s lead and the Bruins led 5-3 at the half.
The Bruins picked right up where they left off when the second half began. Ava Johnson got UCLA going with the first goal of the second half. After the Rainbow Wahine scored their only goal of the third quarter, the Bruins also got goals from Katrina Drake, Bella Baia, and Hannah Palmer. Baia’s goal proved to be the game-winning goal for UCLA.
Both teams scored three times in the fourth quarter with Maxson, Drake and Johnson each picking up their second goals of the game as the Bruins cruised to a 12-7 win.
With the “real” season now underway, UCLA faces a familiar foe in the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford and UCLA split their two regular season meetings which were both played in Palo Alto and the Cardinal took the MPSF semifinal game between the squads which was held in a neutral pool at Arizona State.
And, therein lies the rub.
Today’s game is being played in UCLA’s home pool in Westwood. If the Bruins are able to make the most of their home pool advantage, UCLA should come out victorious. Unfortunately, the home pool advantage is questionable with no fans being allowed to attend tournament games.
Despite the lack of Bruin fans in the stands, I still like UCLA’s chances tonight, though it will likely be a close game and could even head to overtime.
NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament Quarterfinals
Opponents: #3 UCLA Women’s Water Polo (14-4) vs. #2 Stanford Cardinal (13-5)
When: 5:00 pm PT, Saturday, May 15, 2021
Where: Spieker Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stream: NCAA.com
Live Stats: TheFosh.net