#3 UCLA Women's Water Polo Returns to Action Against #2 Stanford
The Bruins visit the Cardinal this weekend after a two-week layoff.
Now that the UCLA men’s water polo team has won the Bruins’ 119th NCAA title, Adam Wright can now focus his attention on leading the women’s team. Hopefully, that will lead to UCLA’s 120th title. This afternoon, the Bruins will be in Palo Alto for the first of two games against the #2 Stanford Cardinal at 3 pm PT.
Last Time Out
When the Bruins last played on March 7, they defeated UC Berkeley, 9-8.
UCLA got on the board first when Ava Johnson scored on a power play goal with 4:32 left in the first quarter, but UC Berkeley quickly tied the game just 17 seconds later. Bella Baia gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead 21 seconds after the Bears tied it. UC Berkeley scored the final two goals of the period and they led 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter looked like it was going to be a scoreless period before Elli Protopapas doubled the lead for the Bears and the Bruins trailed at the half, 4-2.
UCLA got their offense going in the second half and they picked up four third quarter goals from four different players. Johnson’s second goal of the game cut the lead to just one goal just 22 seconds into the quarter. After Protopapas scored again, the Bruins got goals from Katrina Drake and Lexi Liebowitz to tie the game, 5-5, with 3:23 to go in the third. Each team scored one more time with the Bruins’ Hannah Palmer tying the game, 6-6, with just under a minute left.
Protopapas’ third goal of the game put UC Berkeley ahead again in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but Johnson wasn’t about to be outdone. So, she completed up her hat trick with 5:42 left in the game. The Bruins took their first lead of the game when Palmer scored her second goal with 4:24 to go. The lead was short lived as the Bears tied it back up less than a minute later. Neither team was able break the tie until there was just over a minute left in the game. That’s when Liebowitz scored her second goal of the game on a power play to put UCLA ahead, 9-8. This time, UC Berkeley was unable to match the Bruins as the clock ticked down and UCLA picked up their fifth win of the season.
Stanford’s number two ranking seems a bit dubious. After losing their season opened to then-fifth-ranked and, now, fourth-ranked Arizona State, Stanford has beat up on a bunch of inferior teams all ranked in the teens.
Comparitively, UCLA has beaten top 5 teams, UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, three times, along with a then-ninth-ranked and, now, eleventh-ranked Fresno State team.
So, the Bruins have clearly played a tougher scheduled, yet are only ranked third behind the Cardinal.
As a result, I think the Bruins will, at least, earn a split in the weekend series on the road. But I also won’t be surprised to see UCLA win both games, or even lose both of them. All of that said, I think the Bruins will win a close one today, 8-7.
#3 UCLA Women’s Water Polo (4-0)