LA JOLLA, CA., May 11. THE reign of Stanford University as national collegiate women's water polo champs came to an abrupt halt today.
UCLA, which lost a guy-wrenching, five-overtime, 3-2 match to the Cardinal two weeks ago at Stanford in the finals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, roared back from a 2-0 deficit here this afternoon at the campus of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) to dethrone the defending champs, 4-3 in regulation play.
The victory by Coach Adam Krikorian's Bruins represented their second championship in the tournament's three-year history, as UCLA defeated Stanford (at Stanford) by a 5-4 margin two years ago, then lost last season at USC, 8-4.
UCLA has actually won the national six times, but four of those wins came before the NCAA officially recognized women's wter polo as a championship sport two years ago.
The Bruins entered the second half trailing 2-0, but stormed back with four-straight goals to take the title home to Westwood. The Bruins finish the season 23-4 overall while Coach John Tanner's Stanford women wind up 21-3.
Krikorian is also the only coach to have won both a women's and men's title as he guided the UCLA men to back-to-back NCAA championships in the fall of 1999 and again the following year, then won the inaugural women's crown in May of '01. (Stanford has separate coaches for its women's and men's polo teams.)
Bruin senior Robin Beauregard, who scored the match's decisive fourth goal, her only tally of the tourney, and who also played stellar defense was named the Most Valuable Player.
In the third-place match, Loyola-Marymount defeated Indiana, 5-2. LMU also finished third last season.
Four different Bruins scored for the victors while Stanford had goals from three different players. However, the Cardinal's big gun, All-America and last year's MVP, Brenda Villa, was held scoreless today — largely due to the superb defensive efforts of Beauregard. And the Cardinal was only able to convert one of six 6-on-5 opportunities which, as it turned out, was not enough to get the job done.
A 6-on-5 goal by Stanford accounted for all of the scoring in the first period, as the Bruins were blanked by the smothering Card defense and trailed 1-0 at the end of one. Though senior goalie Jaime Hipp recorded three saves in the second period, another Stanford goal put the Bruins down 0-2 at halftime.
For the second period in a row, UCLA was unable to generate any offense, trailed 2-0 at halftime and the raucous throng of Cardinal boosters were shouting
Bruin freshman Kelly Rulon, one of a trio of UCLA players who scored a pair of goals in the 8-2 semi-final win over LMU yesterday, got the Bruins within one with her first goal of the game early in the third period. A 6-on-5 goal from senior Jessica Lopez, who also scored a deuce against the Lions, knotted the count at 2 with just under a minute remaining in the third period.
So after three quarters of play the score was all knotted up at 2 apiece.
The Bruins then took their first lead of the match on a 6-on-5 goal from Lauren Heineck, putting UCLA up, 3-2, early in the fourth. Beauregard next scored to put the eventual champs up, 4-2 with 2:50 left in the final period.
Stanford was able to convert on a UCLA turnover to get within one at 4-3, but the Bruins throttled a 6-on-5 opportunity in the final minute of the period and held the Cardinal scoreless on its final possession to win its second NCAA crown in the three-year history of the championship — and its sixth national title.
All was not lost for the Cardinal, however, as Stanford defeated Cal last December at Loyola in the men's championship to claim its record 10th NCAA title.
Six Bruins were named to the All-Tournament team.
junior Natalie Golda and senior Jessica Lopez were named to the first team, while senior Robin Beauregard was named the NCAA tournament's Most Valuable Player. Senior goalie Jaime Hipp, freshman Kelly Rulon and senior Maureen Flanagan were named to the second team.
NCAA Championship Game Summary
UCLA vs. Stanford, La Jolla, California
May 11, 2003
Teams 1 2 3 4 Final
UCLA 0 0 2 2 4
Stanford 1 1 0 1 3
UCLA – Kelly Rulon, Jessica Lopez, Lauren Heineck, Robin Beauregard
Stanford – Wendy Watkins, Julie Gardner, Kelty Luber
UCLA, 2 of 5
Stanford, 1 of 6
UCLA – Jaime Hipp 6
Stanford – Jackie Frank 7