It’s UCLA vs. Stanford for Women’s NCAA Water Polo Crown

PALO ALTO, CA., May 13. UCLA women's water polo coach Adam Krikorian hopes the fifth time will be the charm.
Krikorian's Bruins, ranked No. 2 nationally, will battle No. 1-ranked and undefeated Stanford (27-0) in this afternoon's finale of the inagurual NCAA women's water polo championship, after handily disposing of Loyola Marymount, 11-1, Saturday in the opening semifinal at the Cardinal's Avery Aquatics Center here.

The other semi saw Stanford bounce Eastern power Brown University, 12-zip, to set up the Cardinal-Bruin rematch of their Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship from a couple of weeks ago in Honolulu, where Stanford won in overtime.

It was the fourth-consecutive time the Cardinal had beaten the Bruins this season and Krikorian says
"enough is enough."

"Obviously our play against them earlier this season wasn't enough," Krikorian said after the Bruins' win here today. "We're going to have to show a full four quarters of great play if we want to see a different outcome."

UCLA, 17-4 after its win, scored five unanswered goals in the second period after having been blanked in the opening frame and was never threatened thereafter. Junior star Kelly Heuchan was the Bruins' "big gun," scoring a leading three goals, while teammate Elaine Zivich added a pair. UCLA's defense held Loyola (22-7 and Western Women's Water Polo Assn. champs) to only 15 shots on goal.

UCLA's Coralie Simmons put her team on the board with 5:40 remaining in the second quarter on their first 6-on-5 advantage, and after that the Bruins were never headed. UCLA led at halftime, 5-0, then went up 7-1 at the end of the third quarter. The Bruins outshot Loyola, 28-15, and goalie Jamie Hipp was stellar on defense with seven saves.

In the Cardinal-Brown game, Stanford went ahead 1-zip with a goal late in the first quarter and then closed out their eastern visitors with five goals in the last period for an easy 12-zip victory. Brown's Bears had four opportunities but really never came close to scoring.

Nine players scored goals for the Cardinal, including a pair by three different girls, on 30 shots while Stanford limited its opponent to 13 shots. Among the single-goal scorers was Brenda Villa with her nation-leading 67th of the season.

Brown was under pressure from the beginning as Card goalie Karen Heggie recorded nine saves before being relieved by Alexa LaFaunce at the start of the fourth quarter and leading, 7-0. Stanford took a 5-zip halftime lead, then expanded it to 7-0 before searing the Bear defense for five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.

UCLA is defending national collegiate champ off its 11-4 victory over crosstown rival USC last season, and has won four of the past five titles. However, this is the initial year of an official NCAA-sponsored tournament and Stanford has been the dominant team all season long — witness their 27-0 record.

"We've never pulled out a full 28 minutes of great play against them," Krikorian said, "and we absolutely have to if we want to win."

UCLA senior Kristen Guerin added: "We always perform well as a team when it's a do-or-die situation. When we've really needed to win, we've consistently come out with the win."

Krikorian also coaches the Bruin men's polo team, and last December won the NCAA title.

– Bill Bell
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