May 2, 2010
Los Angeles, Calif. - The No. 5 seed UCLA Bruins women's water polo team (20-7) scored the first three goals of the match and held on to post an 8-7 victory over second-seeded USC (22-3) in the championship match of the 2010 MPSF Women's Water Polo Championship at Spieker Aquatics Center on the campus of UCLA on Sunday (May 2) afternoon.
The Bruins made their incredible Tournament run knocking off the top-seeded Cardinal of Stanford on Saturday, the second-seeded Trojans of USC today and the fourth-seeded Rainbow Wahine of Hawaii on Friday to win their conference-leading eighth MPSF Tournament championship and became the first team to win the crown from the fifth seed. The Bruins entered the MPSF Tournament with a 1-5 combined record against the three teams they defeated to win the title.
"The last time we played USC, exposed our weaknesses as a team," UCLA head coach Brandon Brooks said. "After a team meeting, we came back refocused and had two weeks of practice and obviously made some improvements."
Freshman Emily Greenwood (16th of the year) got the Bruins on the board first with 5:24 left in the first when her skip shot was deflected off USC goalie Tumua Anae and went in for a 1-0 lead. Junior Kelsey McGinley (5th goal of the year) gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead when her skip shot sailed between Anae and the right post with 4:05 to go in the first. Sophomore KK Clark scored her 22nd goal of the season, a rebound goal off her own shot that was initially stopped by Anae on a man advantage with 2:01 to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead. The Trojans got their first goal on a 6-on-5 opportunity (their fourth of the first period) from Patricia Jancso (34th on the year) with 1:42 left in the first to end the period with UCLA holding a 3-1 advantage.
USC got another exclusion goal, this time from Kally Lucas, her 35th of the season, to pull to within one goal at 3-2 with 5:43 left in the second period. Junior Kelly Easterday pushed the lead back to two with her 23rd goal of the year to make it 4-2 with 3:34 left in the second. The Bruin defense, especially the penalty killing unit, came up big in the first half to help UCLA to a 4-2 lead at the break. The Trojans converted on only one of eight 6-on-5 opportunities in the first half. The Bruins converted on 1-of-2 power plays in the first half.
Priscilla Orozco scored her 35th goal of the year when she fired a low shot past Anae on the left side to put the Bruins up 5-2 with 5:28 left in the third after Bruin goalie Caitlin Dement stopped USC's ninth power play. Dement stopped another USC 6-on-5 opportunity, her third exclusion save of the day and an MPSF-leading 11th of the Tournament. The Bruins got another rebound goal when junior Grace Reynolds scored her 36th of the season to put UCLA up 6-2 with 3:00 minutes left in the third. Jancso scored her second of the day with 1:55 remaining to trim UCLA's lead to 6-3. Reynolds scored her second of the day, a 6-on-5 opportunity, from a nice pass to center from Orozco with 1:35 left to put the Bruins up 7-3. Then Jancso completed her hat trick with a long low shot to the left corner with 1:16 left to pull the Trojans to within three as UCLA took a 7-4 lead into the final quarter.
"It was amazing," Reynolds said, who scored both of her goals in the third period. "We knew we could do it and we came back after the last time we played USC and totally redeemed ourselves. We hope to keep the momentum going into NCAAs."
Alexandra Kiss scored on an off-speed shot that landed in the bottom right corner to cut it to 7-5 with 6:50 left in the match. Clark then scored her second of the day on a power play to put the Bruins up 8-5 with 4:10 remaining. Jancso scored her fourth of the day on a penalty shot that found the left corner with 2:25 remaining in the match that left USC trailing 8-6. Dement then recorded her fourth exclusion save on USC's 16th power play opportunity of the match. Kami Craig scored on the Trojans' 17th power play of the match to make it a one-goal game at 8-7 with 49 seconds left in the match. UCLA made one last defensive stand on the final possession to pull off the upset.
"We got a great performance in the cage," Brooks said. "We had some heads-up plays from our perimeter players and we took some ejections when we had to. We made some critical stops down the stretch and came out on top."
Anae finished with 12 saves in the cage for USC while Dement recorded 11 for UCLA. The Trojans' Forel Davies won all four sprints for USC.
No. 5 UCLA vs. No. 2 USC (MPSF Championship Match)
USC Goals: Patricia Jancso 4, Kami Craig, Kally Lucas, Alexandra
USC Saves: Tumua Anae 12