The fourth time was not the charm for the UC Berkeley Golden Bears on Saturday as the UCLA Women’s Water Polo team defeated the Golden Bears, 14-11. The Bruins never trailed in the game and it was only tied at 1-1. Maddie Musselman led UCLA with four goals while Rachel Fattal and Mackenzie Barr also had hat tricks.
Musselman got the scoring started after winning the opening sprint. Just 28 seconds into the game, she got the Bruins on the scoreboard first, but Emma Wright tied it up for UC Berkeley just 28 seconds later.
UCLA scored the next three goals in the game. Fattal and Alexis Angermund each scored their first goals of the game before Musselman added her second goal to make it 4-1, Bruins.
The Golden Bears responded with two power play goals from Emily Loughlin and Dora Antal. But, Bronte Halligan got UCLA’s lead back to 2 goals just before the end of the first quarter and it was 5-3, Bruins after one.
The second quarter started just like the first. This time, it was Fattal who scored the first goal of the period for UCLA and UC Berkeley answered when Anna Illes scored another power play goal for the Bears.
The Bruins would score three more goals in the second quarter. Mackenzie Barr and Alys Williams each added a score to give UCLA an 8-4 lead. Stephanie Mutafyan cut the Bruins’ lead to three on another power play goal for the Bears before Barr scored her second of the game to make it 9-5. Illes added another power play goal before the half and UCLA led 9-6 at the break.
In the second half, each team would add five goals as the teams would trade goals the rest of the way. Williams opened the scoring in the third with another first-minute goal for the Bruins and Kindred Paul followed with a score for UC Berkeley. Musselman completed her second hat trick in two days before Illes got her third power play goal of the day. Barr then became the second Bruin to have back-to-back hat tricks with a goal that would prove to be the game winner. The Bears answered with Wright’s second goal of the game before Fattal picked up the Bruins’ third hat trick of the game to make it 13-9. Antal closed out the scoring in the third quarter as time expired to and UCLA led 13-10 after three.
In the fourth, both teams seemed to run out of steam offensively. It took until 2:19 left for either team to score when Musselman picked up her fourth goal of the game. The final goal of the game came with a minute to play when Carla Carrega scored for UC Berkeley.
Overall, the Bruins’ penalty killing left something to be desired in this game as the Bears converted 7 of 11 power plays, but, in the end, it didn’t matter as the UCLA offense was just too potent for their opponent again like we’ve seen so often this season. The win advances the Bruins to the championship game for the first time since 2015 when they lost to Stanford.
Speaking of Stanford, the Cardinal edged Southern Cal, 11-10, in the second semifinal to set up a rematch of both the 2015 and the 2014 Championship games. In 2014, Stanford also beat the Bruins to win the title, but UCLA holds a 4-3 edge over the Cardinal in title games.
This title game has more at stake than just being this year’s Water Polo National Championship game. Of course, it’s that. But, currently, UCLA has 113 NCAA titles to Stanford’s 112 titles. A win will, obviously, give UCLA its 114th NCAA championship, but a loss would give Stanford their 113th, which would tie them with UCLA for most titles.
So, the Bruins need to win this one to avoid letting Stanford tie UCLA for most NCAA titles across all sports.
Go Bruins! Beat Stanford!