This afternoon, the #3 UCLA women’s water polo team welcomes the #7 UC Irvine Anteaters to the Spieker Aquatics Center for a 1 pm game. It will be the third meeting between the teams since the season began last month.
Last Time Out
On Sunday, the Bruins wrapped up play at the Triton Invitational in San Diego with a doubleheader. In the semifinals, UCLA defeated today’s opponent, UC Irvine, by a score of 11-6.
Grace Reego got the Bruins on the scoreboard first with 3:30 left in the first quarter on a powerplay goal. The Anteaters managed to tie the game before Val Ayala added two more goals for UCLA with just over a minute left for the first and ten seconds left for the second. That gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead after one.
The second quarter was almost a mirror image of the first as Katrina Drake and Kelsey Blacker made it four straight goals for UCLA. UC Irvine finally responded to make it 5-2, Bruins. Lexi Liebowitz added one more goal for the Bruins before halftime and UCLA led 6-2 at the break.
Maddie Musselman’s power play goal to start the scoring in the second half would prove to be the game-winner. Reego’s second goal of the game put the Bruins up 8-2. The Anteaters started to mount a comeback when they scored on consecutive goals to cut UCLA’s lead to 8-4.
An early fourth quarter power play goal by Rachel Whitelegge and Val Ayala’s third of the game put the Bruins ahead 10-4. UC Irvine couldn’t find the net until the final two minutes of the game when they added a pair of goals. Skylar Savar punctuated this one with one more Bruins’ goal with 49 seconds left and the final was UCLA 11, UC Irvine 6.
That moved the Bruins into the Championship Game against Southern Cal. This game was ugly. The Trojans held UCLA scoreless in the first half while scoring six themselves. UCLA didn’t get on the board until Musselman scored on a penalty shot with 2:39 left in the third quarter. By then, Southern Cal had a 7-1 lead. Liebowitz added one more for the Bruins to close it to 7-2. UCLA’s final goal of the game came from Bronte Halligan with 3:53 left and the Bruins fell to their crosstown rival, 10-3.
UC Irvine Anteaters
Having faced UC Irvine twice already this season in neutral pools, the Bruins shouldn’t have much difficulty this afternoon when UCLA returns home. In fact, I think the Bruins will increase their margin of victory since this is a home game. I predict a 14-6 UCLA win.
This is your UCLA vs. UC Irvine women’s water polo open thread.