NCAA Tournament Semifinals
#2 UCLA Women's Water Polo (25-4)
Opponent: #3 Stanford (22-5)
When: 5:15 PM PDT, Saturday, May 14, 2016
Where: Spieker Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, CA
Video: NCAA Live Video
Live Stats: The FOSH
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that UCLA, Southern Cal, and Stanford are back in the Final 4 for another year. Southern Cal's path to the final looks relatively easy. For UCLA and Stanford, it will be anything but easy.
The Bruins and the Cardinal meet this evening in the second of the semifinals. UCLA and Stanford split their two previous contests, with UCLA earning a thrilling 9-8 triple overtime win three weeks ago, and Stanford getting a measure of revenge the following week with a 6-3 victory in the MPSF Tournament semifinals.
Both teams are desperate to get to the final for one last shot at the undefeated Trojans. Both teams have lost a trio of games to USC this year. Both teams know that the Trojans can be beaten. But only one team will get that chance.
The Bruins advanced to today's semifinal showdown with the Cardinal by trouncing the Tritons, 17-4. However, at the end of the first quarter, with UCLA clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Bruins looked out-of-sync and far from ready for a difficult semifinal.
Then the UCLA offensive started to click. Five goals in the second quarter were followed by seven more in the third. The Bruins found the back of the net three more times in the fourth while killing off the game.
Freshman Lizette Rozeboom led UCLA's attack with four goals. Redshirt junior Alexa Tielmann registered a hat trick, while four Bruins--Ashley Zwirner, Mackenzie Barr, Kelsey O'Brien, and Alex Angermund) netted a pair of goals. Goalkeeper Alex Musselman collected nine saves.
It's unlikely that UCLA will score more than half as many goals today. Both the Bruins and the Cardinal are tough, defensive-minded teams, and in elimination games, teams often adopt risk-averse tactics which reduce scoring. Last time out, UCLA and Stanford combined for nine goals, and in the first UCLA-Stanford match, the Bruins scored nine goals but needed triple overtime to reach that total. In my opinion, seven goals should be enough to win today.