May 14, 2006
Davis, Calif. - UCLA (29-4) won its eighth women's water polo national championship, defeating USC 9-8 in the championship game of the NCAA playoffs at the Schaal Aquatics Center in Davis, California. This is the Bruins' fourth NCAA women's water polo title and 99th NCAA title in all sports. This year, the team set the NCAA record for the longest interseason winning streak of 40 games, coming off last season's 33-0 record and NCAA championship. The last time the Bruins won two women's water polo championships in a row was in 2000 and 2001.
This is Adam Krikorian's fifth national championship as head coach of the women's water polo team and his eighth championship as head coach in men's and women's combined.
The Bruins, having lost the opening sprint, escaped an open shot by Moriah Van Norman on a 6 on 5 advantage as the ball bounced off the sidebar. On the second Bruin possession, Kacy Kunkel drew a four-meter penalty against the Trojans. Kelly Rulon missed the penalty shot but got the rebound and put in a goal, giving the Bruins an opening 1-0 lead. The Trojans came back and Lauren Wenger tied up the game at 4:09.
At 3:51 Ke. Rulon scored her second goal of the game as she squeezed the ball through the bottom left corner of the net. Thalia Munro made a key field save followed by a diving save by Feher at 1:05 to keep the Trojans from socring. With 46 seconds left, Ke. Rulon notched her third goal with a lob shot over USC goalkeeper Whitney Morgan. On the next USC possession, Van Norman used a 6 on 5 opportunity to bring the score to 3-2.
On the first USC possession of the second quarter, Erika Figge tied up the game at 3-3. The USC defense shut down the Bruin offense through its first few possessions. The Bruin defense though was effective as well, including a key steal by Ke. Rulon to take away a USC 6 on 5 advantage. At 2:49 a four-meter penalty was called against the Bruins and Patty Cardenas gave USC its first lead of the game.
At 2:09, Cahill tied up the game on a 6 on 5 advantage. On the next USC possession off an ejection of Jillian Kraus, USC once again took the lead. At 1:07, Gabrielle Domanic converted another USC exclusion to tied up the game. With seconds left, Brittany Hayes tossed shot and scored to give the Trojans a half time lead of 6-5.
At the start of the second half, a double ejection was called, setting a tone for this very physical match. At 5:26, Cahill picked up her third ejection. But following that, Kraus converted on an open shot to one again tie the game, 6-6. At 4:19 USC had two exclusions called against it in a row, but UCLA could not convert, holding the ball on offense for over a minute. When the Bruins came down the next time around, Van Norman was excluded and Domanic scored a skip shot goal.
USC tied the game at 1:23 with another goal from Cardenas. Ke. Rulon responded at 50 seconds for her fourth goal, putting the Bruins ahead. Domanic had an open drive on the following UCLA possession but just missed putting UCLA up by two.
In the fourth, Kraus picked up her third ejection at 6:08. Feher stopped a Trojan goal on a backhand shot by Van Norman. At 5:16, the officials called another double ejection, causing Van Norman to foul out on the Trojans. At 4:18 there was an ejection on USC, but a shot by Brittany Rowe went wide. When USC took over the ball, Rowe was called for an ejection but the Trojans just missed a goal off the post. On what would be the last USC possession, Blanchard was excluded and Cardenas tied up the game, 8-8.
Courtney Mathewson on the last UCLA possession as the clock ticked down, won the game for the Bruins on a five meter shot past Morgan with one second left.
USC, which finished fourth place in the MPSF tournament, first in the MPSF regular season, played UCLA three times earlier this season. Two of USC's three losses came against UCLA. USC was ranked number one throughout most of the year until its losses in the MPSF Tournament.
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference was well-represented in the tournament. UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Hawaii won the top four places in the tournament and dominated the other non-MPSF opponents.
UCLA vs. USC 5/13/06 - NCAA Championship Game
UCLA Goals: Kelly Rulon 4, Gabrielle Domanic 2, Molly Cahill, Jillian Kraus, Courtney Mathewson
UCLA Saves: Emily Feher 4
USC Goals: Patty Cardenas 3, Brittany Hayes 2, Lauren Wenger 1, Moriah Van Norman 1, Erika Figge 1
USC Saves:Whitney Morgan 6
NCAA All-Tournament Team
MVP Kelly Rulon - UCLA
Emily Feher - UCLA
Thalia Munro - UCLA
Scotti Shafer - Stanford
Anna Sieprath - Hawaii
Iefke Van Belkum - Hawaii
Moriah Van Norman - USC
Lauren Wenger - USC
Meike DeNooy - Hawaii
Erika Figge - USC
Brittany Hayes - USC
Christina Hewko - Stanford
Bronwen Knox - Hartwick
Kacy Kunkel - UCLA
Katherine O'Rourke - UC Davis
Lauren Silver - Stanford
UCLA Head Coach Adam Krikorian
"The difference in the game is they were 2-for-17 on 6-on-5 and we were 5-for-11. Obviously we did a great job on our 5-on-6. We made some big saves when we had to. We hustled. We got some steals on our 5-on-6. I think the key to the game today, other than that, was our depth."
UCLA's Courtney Mathewson
"When (Gabrielle Domanic) had the ball, I knew there was six seconds left, but once I got it, I had no idea how much time was left...It was kind of like just in the moment. I don't really remember everything. It was just kind of something that just happened. I got the ball, I knew my teammates had faith in me to shoot, and I shot it and I'm just so happy it went in."
Other Tournament Play
Claremont Mudd-Scripps vs. Marist 5/13/06 - NCAA Championship 7th Place Game
CMS Goals: Kari Weston 4, Katelin McCahill 2, Julie Wade, Annalyse Arguelles, Allison Rader
UC Davis vs. Hartwick 5/13/06 - NCAA Championship 5th Place Game
Hartwick Goals: Ellen Sevigny 3, Bronwen Knox 3, Teresa Fleming 2, Kimberley Sumich, Keri James
Stanford vs. Hawaii 5/13/06 - NCAA Championship 3rd Place Game
Hawaii Goals: Kelly Mason 3, Kristy Bagnall, Iefke Van Belkum