UCLA vs. Stanford for NCAA Championship

Maddie Musselman, UCLA (Photo courtesy UCLA)
May 13, 2017

NCAA Semifinal # 1

No. 1 seed UCLA 14, California 11

Recap by UCLA

INDIANAPOLIS - The UCLA women's water polo team advanced into the title game of the NCAA Championships Saturday, as it came out on top of a shootout with California, 14-11. Maddie Musselman led the way with four goals for the Bruins, who will face the winner of Saturday's second semifinal contest between Stanford and USC. Musselman got things started early for the Bruins with an even-strength goal off the feed from Kodi Hill at 7:32 of the opening frame. Fellow freshman Emma Wright quickly responded for the Golden Bears at 7:04. The answering goal jump-started a Bruin run and three consecutive goals by Rachel Fattal, Alexis Angermund and the second by Musselman. The next three scores were on power plays, including the two by Cal's Emily Loughlin (2:25) and Dora Antal (1:03) to trim the UCLA advantage to 4-3. Bronte Halligan of the Bruins capitalized on an advantage with 33 seconds left to give UCLA a two-goal cushion heading into the second. Twenty-five seconds into the second quarter, Fattal netted her second goal of the game to double up the Bears. Another power-play opportunity arose for the Golden Bears and Anna Illes made the most of it to make the Bruin lead 6-4 (6:00). Mackenzie Barr's first of the afternoon on Hill's third assist re-established a three-goal lead at 7-4 (5:32), and Alys Williams' first (4:34) again doubled-up the Bears. Another run on exclusions proved advantageous for both sides, as Cal goals by Stephanie Mutafyan and Illes surrounded Barr's second heading into the half, as the Bruins led by a 9-6 score. For the third time, UCLA received an opening minute goal, this time by Williams (7:06). The teams would trade goals for the duration of the second half, as Kindred Paul netted the next one for Cal and Musselman recorded a hat trick for the second consecutive day. The third power-play goal of the day for Illes cut the Bruin lead to 11-8. Barr then completed her second hat trick in as many days off the feed from Williams, but Wright answered for the Bears just 14 seconds later. In a quarter of hat tricks, Fattal completed one of her own to push the Bruin lead to 13-9 at 1:41 of the frame. Looking poised to take a four-goal lead into the final quarter, Antal her second of the game past Bruin goalkeeper Carlee Kapana with zeroes on the clock to put both teams in double digits. After the 23 combined goals in the game's first three quarters, defense took over and there were just a pair of scores in the final frame and none until the 2:19 mark, when Musselman scored her fourth of the afternoon. Carla Carrega's goal with 1:00 to go completed a day that saw the Bears convert on 7-of-11 power-play opportunities, but fall short in the semifinal matchup. In tomorrow's final, the Bruins will face either Stanford or USC. The Bruins have defeated the Cardinal twice this season, including a 6-3 win in the MPSF Final (April 30). UCLA has split two games with USC.

California (3, 3, 4, 1 - 11) Illes - 3; Antal, Wright - 2; Carrega, Loughlin, Mutafyan - 1

No. 1 UCLA (5, 4, 4, 1 - 14) Musselman - 4; Barr, Fattal - 3; Williams - 2; Angermund, Halligan - 1

NCAA Semifinal # 2

No. 2 seed Stanford 11, No. 3 seed USC 10

Recap by Stanford

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Maggie Steffens scored four times, No. 2 Stanford clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter and the Cardinal advanced to its eighth consecutive NCAA final with an 11-10 victory over No. 3 USC on Saturday night.

Stanford (22-3), which has appeared in every championship match since 2010, will play No. 1 UCLA (24-1) for the national title on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT. The Bruins beat Cal 14-11 in the tournament's earlier semifinal. The Cardinal has won five NCAA Championships (2002, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015) and four of the last six.

The teams traded goals throughout the entire first half and were tied 6-6 at intermission. Maud Megens converted a penalty for USC (29-4) to close the second quarter and then the Trojans rattled the cage in a couple of power plays to start the third and go up two, 8-6.

With 4:46 to go in the third, Shannon Cleary found Madison Berggren with a cross pass, which the lefty whipped in for Stanford's first tally of the second half. On the Cardinal's next possession, Kat Klass' lob over Amanda Longan to the far post found the back of the cage and tie the score 8-8.

Brianna Daboub scored in the 6-on-5 with 1:47 left in the third to put USC up one, 9-8, heading into the final period.

Stanford's defense, which was superb all game, rose to another level in the fourth. Gabby Stone made three of her five saves in the last eight minutes and USC managed just one score, a quick strike from Stephania Haralabidis on a restart with 4:34 on the clock.

Jordan Raney scored twice in the final frame for the Cardinal. She took a pass from Maggie Steffens on the power play and rifled it to the far post at 5:01 to tie things 9-9. Haralabidis scored next before Steffens put home her fourth with 4:20 to go and then set up Raney for another 6-on-5 goal with 3:46 left.

Stone would save potential game-tying attempts from Haralabidis and Megens over the final three minutes and Stanford wrapped up the win by forcing a shot clock violation after a USC timeout with just 31 ticks remaining.

Raney and Shannon Cleary keyed Stanford's strong defensive effort on the Trojans' two-meter powerhouse Brigitta Games. USC's second-leading scorer was held without a goal for just the fifth time in 33 games this season.

The back-and-forth first half in which Stanford never trailed with kicked off with a Steffens hat trick in the game's first four minutes. The Cutino Award finalist scored the Cardinal's first three of the evening at 5:30, 4:40 and 3:54 in the opening quarter.

Shannon Cleary nudged Stanford back in front, 4-3, with a rocket to the far post at 2:39. Makenzie Fischer scored the Cardinal's final two of the first half, converting a penalty late in the first quarter (1:03) and rattling the cage midway through the second (3:54) off a pass from Raney.

Stanford extended its own NCAA record by booking its eighth straight trip to the women's water polo championship and will be looking to win the department's fourth NCAA title of the year (men's soccer, women's volleyball, women's swimming and diving).

Stanford has won 112 NCAA team championships, a total which is second to UCLA's 113. Cardinal programs last won four NCAA championships in 2001-02. Stanford has won at least one NCAA team title for 41 consecutive academic years, an ongoing record