PHOENIX, Arizona, February 27. IRVINE, California, was definitely the place to be Feb. 22-23 if you're an NCAA women's water polo fan. Many of the top teams converged on the Anteater Aquatic Complex and the Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach to compete in the UCI Invitational Tournament.
Teams were divided into four groups. Group A consisted of Stanford, San Jose State, Hawaii and Cal State Bakersfield. In Group B were USC, San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific. Competing in Group C were UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC San Diego. Seeing action in Group D were California, Arizona State, Cal State Northridge and Loyola Marymount.
The top two teams in the nation met in the championship final. The second-ranked USC Trojans captured the championship with an upset victory over the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal, 13-10. Anni Espar scored four times for the Trojans, with Monica Vavic and Hannah Buckling contributing three each. Maggie Steffens was the leading Cardinal scorer with three goals. Goalie Flora Bolonyai saved nine shots for the Trojans, including a key 5-meter penalty stop in the fourth period.
Third place went to the third-ranked UCLA Bruins, who had a fairly easy time of it with a 14-7 triumph over the No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils. Freshman Rachel Fattal was responsible for five of UCLA's goals. The Bruins jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back. Sophomore Emily Donohoe added four goals to the total and freshman Alexa Tielmann contributed two.
Fifth place in the tournament went to California with a 8-6 victory over San Diego State, ranked seventh nationally. The fourth ranked Golden Bears were tied with the Aztecs at 2-2 at halftime. Cal then scored four goals. San Diego State tried valiantly, but Cal held on for the win.
Other games in the final round included (ranking in parentheses):
Seventh place: UC Irvine (6) 10 vs. Hawaii (8) 9
Ninth place: Pacific (18) 4 vs. Cal State Bakersfield 3
11th place: Cal State Northridge (15) 9 vs. UC San Diego (17) 6
13th place: San Jose State (9) 12 vs. UC Santa Barbara (13) 10
15th place: Loyola Marymount (16) 9-UC Davis (14) 5
Complete results of the UCI Tournament can be found here:
It was not the only tournament held this past weekend, however.
Indiana hosted the Fluid Four Tournament last weekend. Competing with the 11th-ranked Hoosiers were Washington and Jefferson, tenth-ranked Cal State Long Beach and Dollard des Ormeaux . Indiana lost to the 49ers 7-4, but rebounded to defeat Washington and Jefferson 15-1. In that game, junior Carson Nester scored five goals, one shy of the team record. Freshman Halle Lindsey scored twice and eight others scored a goal each.
The Princeton Tigers, ranked 12th in the nation, competed in the CWPA/MAAC Crossover, hosted by Villanova University. Princeton went 4-0 in the tournament with victories over Siena (12-0), Iona (14-11), Wagner (14-8) and Villanova (14-4).
No. 20 Hartwick had the weekend off. They will next compete at the Marist Tournament in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.