LOS ANGELES, California, May 11. STANFORD women's water polo captured its fourth NCAA title and third in four years Sunday with a 9-5 victory over UCLA at Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of: Joon Baik
Courtesy of: Joon Baik
The Cardinal (25-1) held UCLA (27-5) scoreless in the second half and went on a 6-0 run over the final 16:19 to overcome a 5-2 deficit. Senior 2-meter Annika Dries scored all three of her goals in the second half, including the eventual game-winner with 4:51 remaining in the contest. Dries was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
The NCAA title is also the 105th for Stanford Athletics, and extends the school's national-best streak to 38 years with at least one NCAA championship.
UCLA -- 2 3 0 0 = 5
Stanford -- 1 2 2 4 = 9
Stanford Goal Scorers: Dries 3, K. Dodson 2, Grossman 2, Steffens, Yelizarova
UCLA Goal Scorers: Barr, Forster, Hill, Ronimus, Tielmann
Goalie Saves: Stone 2 (S); Hill 12 (UCLA)
Third-place game: USC vs. California
It wasn't the game that the defending NCAA champions had planned to play in, but Southern California still ended its season in victory. Playing in the third-place game at the 2014 NCAA tournament, the No. 3 seeded Women of Troy whipped up a solid 11-8 win against No. 4 seed California Sunday at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The winning finish wraps a successful 2014 season for the Trojans, who posted a 26-4 overall record on the year.
USC's six seniors -- Flora Bolonyai, Olivia Cummins, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza, Colleen O'Donnell and Madeline Rosenthal -- were making their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, having won the 2013 national championship last season. In four seasons of work, Bolonyai moved up to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader. She pinned up her 15th double-digit save outing of the year with 11 saves Sunday to finish her time as a Trojan with a record 895 career saves. Gilchrist, too, worked her way into the history books. With a goal today, Gilchrist bumped her career count up to 142 to stand at No. 10 all-time in career goals. All six seniors made their marks in their final game. O'Donnell added a goal, while Cummins won sprints, Mendoza delivered field blocks and Rosenthal nabbed steals for the Trojan cause.
At the close of the tournament, Monica Vavic was named to the All-Tournament First Team, and Flora Bolonyai and Kaleigh Gilchrist were selected to the All-Tournament Second Team.
USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, with Eike Daube wielding a big gun for the Trojans today. She'd blast the first goal -- on her way to a hat trick on the day -- and Jennifer Stiefel whipped in the next to take the Trojans to a 2-0 advantage. Cal would get on the board with a 5-meter penalty shot to open the second frame, only to see Daube rifle in her second with a strike to the left side. Cal made things interesting with back-to-back goals to level things at 3-3 with 2:37 to go until halftime, but Daube had the last word. Her third of the game was a ripper that nudged USC ahead 4-3. Bolonyai served up a save to close the half, and USC was ready to make even more moves.
Jayde Appel earned a 6-on-5 chance for the Trojans out of the gates, prompting Gilchrist to take her place in the all-time top-10 with a rocket that got USC back to a two-goal lead. After a Rosenthal interception, Daube earned a USC power play next. The hot hand shifted from Daube to Monica Vavic in the second half, and Vavic nailed her first of three goals with a nearside strike that bumped USC ahead 6-3. Cal would convert on a 6-on-5 of its own on the Bears' next possession, only to see some new Trojans step into the scoring column. Mendoza set up USC with another 6-on-5, and this one was promptly finished off by the deft left hand of Stephania Haralabidis. That would spark a four-goal surge by the Trojans, who next followed a Bolonyai save with a searing score from O'Donnell. Another Bolonyai stop sent the ball the other way, where Vavic eventually swept in a crosscage skipper to make it 9-4 USC entering the fourth period of play.
There, Gilchrist opened things up with a field block, and Vavic nailed her third goal to get the score to a daunting 10-4 Trojan advantage. Cal snapped the four-goal run with a crosscage lob from Roser Tarrago with 2:29 to go, but USC kept coming. USC's 11th of the day came from freshman Ioanna Haralabidis. Up 11-5 at that point, USC head coach Jovan Vavic emptied his bench to give the entire roster some extra NCAA experience. Cal was able to knock in the last three goals in the final stretch to end the game as an 11-8 USC victory.
Fifth-place game: Arizona State vs. UC-Irvine
Fifth-seeded Arizona State finished its inaugural NCAA postseason appearance on a high note, knocking off sixth-seeded UC Irvine 6-5 to take fifth place at the 2014 NCAA Championships on Sunday.
Petra Pardi had two goals and the Sun Devil defense was suffocating as it held the Anteater offense to a tie for its second-lowest goal output of the season at the Uytengsu Aquatic Center, improving to a season-ended record of 17-11 overall.
"I'm really pleased with the effort and intensity of our team. They trusted us and trusted each other," head coach Todd Clapper said of his team's performance after the game. "They played with a lot of heart. It was a great way to finish the season."
The third time these two teams have met this season, the game matched the pace and grittiness of the others in recent years: a low-scoring back-and-forth affair with the end not decided until the literal end of the game. Sunday's contest was no exception with neither team finding much consistency on the offensive end and a late stop being necessary to seal the deal.
"We played an interesting game. We started slow." Pardi said after the game. "UCI was controlling the offense early, then the second half we picked it up. It was a real team effort."
ASU overcame the sluggish start to take the lead for the first time in the game with 6:04 remaining in the fourth quarter on a beautiful goal by Pardi from the elbow from about six meters out for her second of the game to put the Sun Devils up 5-4.
"I feel like on my two goals, I had clear opportunities because the team set me up well," Pardi said. "We stuck to the plan and it worked out."
The biggest play of the game came with 3:30 left in regulation as Abbey Kerth was able to draw a penalty shot from center and Izabella Chiappini made the Anteaters pay with her lone goal of the contest and the final one of the game for ASU to put the team up 6-4.
"It was a really physical game. We battled all game," Kerth said. "When we pulled ahead, it changed the momentum and gave us the surge to win."
The two-goal lead didn't eliminate the tension of the final three minutes, however, as UC Irvine (25-9) drew a penalty shot of its own with 1:03 left in the game and Jessy Cardey made things interesting by converting.
The Sun Devils would run down the shot clock on the opposite end, choosing to win the game with their defense and UCI taking over possession with 27 seconds left. The defense held firm, forcing a bad pass to center the goalkeeper E.B. Keeve was able to snag to end the game.
Keeve finish with eight saves in the contest and owed some credit to the goalposts, which attracted numerous UCI shots throughout the match.
ASU fell into a 3-0 hole with 6:30 left in the second quarter as the team could just get nothing going on offense and found several shots of their own clanking of the posts. Ao Gao finally stopped the bleeding with ASU's first goal and the Sun Devils cut the deficit to one on Pardi's first of the game with about three minutes left in the frame.
Alkistis Benekou evened things up with a sweet backhand shot with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter and the two squads exchanged another pair of goals before ASU took over for good.
The Sun Devils faced eight 5-on-6 situations in the game, but held UCI to just one goal on those opportunities.
The win gave ASU a 2-1 record at the NCAA tournament this season in the team's first appearance.
"The NCAA tournament is an elusive goal, saying you 'want to make the NCAAs.' You don't know that that means until you are here," Clapper said of the experience. "The majority of our group is coming back next year. Now they know what it means. From the standpoint of recruiting, getting into the NCAAs is going to help sell our team."