May 14, 2005
The UCLA Bruin women's water polo team continued its impressive post-season play on Saturday, beating fourth seed Hawaii in the semifinals of the NCAA championship playoffs at the Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. UCLA (32-0) will face Stanford, a 5-4 winner over USC, on Sunday at 1:30 PM PDT in the championship match of the NCAA Tournament.
The four teams that played in semifinal matches today, UCLA, USC, Stanford and Hawaii, are all members of the MPSF and were the top four in the MPSF playoffs two weeks ago at California. So far, the higher seeded team has won every match in this tournament, except in the Stanford vs. USC matchup.
The first two possessions were opportunities for UCLA with ejections against Hawaii. On the second possession, freshman Gabrielle Domanic was able to convert at 5:55. Kelly Rulon came down on the next possession and lobbed in a goal, making the score 2-0. Hawaii came back and scored three consecutive goals take a 3-2. Monika Kruszona had Hawaii's first goal. With 37 seconds left in the first quarter, Rulon received an outlet pass from Emily Feher and made a difficult spin move to score.
At the nine second mark, Hawaii scored to take a 4-3 lead after the end of the first quarter. This is only the second time that UCLA has trailed at the end of a quarter the whole season.
In the beginning of the second, Thalia Munro picked up her second ejection but UCLA countered with strong defense and held the Wahine scoreless. Neither goalies would not let anything get by. Feher had three saves in the second period.
This is the first time that UCLA has trailed at the half and the three goal total in the first half matches the lowest scoring half of the season. It was also only the third time that UCLA has been held scoreless in a quarter. Against Hawaii on February 26, the Bruins only scored three goals.
The scoreless stretch was finally broken by Natalie Golda at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter with a goal on a four-meter penalty shot. A minute later, Hawaii took back the leadwith a goal from Iefke Van Belkum.
The Olympians then brought UCLA back. Rulon tied up the game at 0:56 with her third goal of the game. Thirty seconds later Munro scored her first goal to give the Bruins their first lead since the first quarter.
They were unable to get good shots early in the fourth. Hawaii came back to tie the game at 4:11 in the fourth quarter with a lob goal by Anna Sieprath. At 1:43, Kristina Kunkel fought her way through two defenders and scored on a 6-5 opportunity. This gave the Bruins a 7-6 lead.
Rulon stole a breakaway pass with a minute left and UCLA held the ball for the rest of the game to end with a 7-6 victory.
This was one of UCLA's more difficult games of the season and it was the most competitive of the NCAA tournament thus far. Hawaii (21-10) will face USC in the third-place game.
Bruin sophomore Kelly Rulon is approaching the UCLA single season scoring record of 74 goals. She currently is in second place with 70.
This will be the fourth time in five years of NCAA women's water polo recognition that UCLA has played Stanford in the championship game. UCLA won two of the previous three times.
Sunday's championship game will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.uclabruins.com.
UCLA vs. Hawaii 5/14/05 - NCAA Championship Semifinals
Other Tournament Play
In the first game of the day, Loyola Marymount (28-7) defeated Wagner (23-9), 16-4. LMU moves on to play Michigan in the fifth place game on Sunday
Loyola Marymount vs. Wagner 5/14/05 - NCAA Championship Consolation Round
LMU Goals: Stacia Peterson 5, Rosanna Tomiuk 3, Christine Robinson 2, Dora Szabolcsi 2, Cara Colton, Sarah Hamilton, Katherine Murray, Anne Markel
LMU Saves: Rachel Riddell 13
Wagner Goals: Billy Hoelck 2, Sara Kramer, Stacey Travous
Wagner Saves: Hauck 3
Michigan's victory today was the first win by an eastern team in NCAA women's water polo tournament history. The Wolverines will face LMU at 10:30 PM PDT.
Michigan vs. Redlands 5/14/05 - NCAA Championship Consolation Round
Michigan Goals: Shana Welch 4, Sheetal Narsai 3, Kristin Hoogenboom 2, Megan Hausmann 2, Jo Antonsen 2
Michigan Saves: Betsey Armstrong 15
Redlands Goals: Alie Hower 3, Mandy Zimel, Kelly Phillips, Alana Martinez, Corinne Flowers
Redlands Saves: Caitlin O'Dell 5
USC vs. Stanford 5/14/05 - NCAA Championship Semifinal Round
Stanford Goals: Hannah Luber 2, Scotti Shafer, Katie Hansen, Nancy El-Sakkary.
Stanford Saves: Meredith McColl 9
USC Goals: Moriah Van Norman 2, Brittany Hayes, Eszter Gyori
USC Saves: Sarah Mix 9
UCLA Head Coach Adam Krikorian
On the game ... "We got a lot of offensive opportunities but we turned the ball over too much in the beginning, trying to force it in the middle. We were a little rushed in the second half too. Defensively, we were bad but we settled and did an awesome job. They got four goals in the first quarter and just two after that. I'm happy with how we got it done and we get to play for a national championship."
On the Hawaii defense ... "They were tough and they had a good balance and mixed it up. We forced some things but I told the team that it doesn't matter how we win, as long as we advance. That's what the NCAA tournament is. Hawaii played us tough all year and this gives us a great opportunity to learn from our mistakes without a loss. We will take a lot from this win -- more than if it had been an easy victory."
On the flow of the game ... "We were up 2-0 but they did a good job of coming back and then taking the lead. We knew it wouldn't be easy with the NCAA atmosphere but it's all about advancing. It doesn't matter how you get there."
UCLA Junior Driver Thalia Munro
On playing with two penalties early ... "It's rare that I get two penalties so early in the game, but my teammates stepped up like they always do. We had to face adversity together. It doesn't matter who gets kicked out or injured, we'll fight as a team to the end."
On the importance of the victory ... "Sometimes I get a little intense out there and it can pump up my teammates. I was stoked, that's all. I get stoked out there."
On holding a one-goal lead with five seconds left ... "With five seconds left it's never over. I was yelling to my teammates that it wasn't over. My heart was beating so fast. We were happy that nothing strange happened at the end."
UCLA Senior Center Natalie Golda
On the game ... "I was more frustrated that the ball wasn't falling for us than anything. We played good defense and attacked well but the ball didn't go our way. We've come through a lot this season and this game was nothing new."
On holding a one-goal lead with five seconds left ... "Anything can happen late in the game. We wanted to close it out and not let Hawaii hit one of their long shots."
Hawaii Head Coach Michel Roy
On the game ... "We played the best game ever. We came out solid even though any of them can score. If we play them 10 times they win nine of them. I told them that it doesn't matter if we win or lose, so go out and play the best that you can. We gave it our best shot and I am very proud of our team."
On his game plan to beat UCLA ... "We had to do outstanding things that had never been done. We had to check UCLA tight and have the best game of our lives. Our plan was to play confident and just go for it. We had chance and UCLA had to beat us. We had the lead and if they panic more or we put another goal in, who knows. I believe UCLA deserves to win the national championship, on paper at least."
On his standout players ... "My goalie (Meike De Nooy) played well and so did Iefke Van Belkum. Iefke stole some balls and played excellent defense, while Meike made some great stops."
Hawaii Sophomore Goaltender Meike De Nooy
On the game ... "In the first quarter it took some time for us to get used to the pace of the game but we showed what we could do. Our mentality was to be so ready to do this. Whoever came into the game was on fire and we were all good-nervous out there."
On being the underdog ... "We were the underdogs to the public but it motivated us because we knew we were close to UCLA and could play with them."
On holding UCLA scoreless in the second period ... "I didn't realize it was zero goals in the second. I think our defense did so well because it looked both ways and they all helped each other out. It was a good team effort and I played my best game by far. I was very psyched up and I play my best that way."