UC Irvine 5
On Friday afternoon, the No. 9-ranked UC Irvine women’s water polo team (8-3, 1-1) was defeated 6-5 by No. 4 Hawaii in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Anteater Aquatics Complex.
It was a close game, going back and forth throughout. The Anteaters were coming from a strong finish last week, victorious in games against Cal State San Bernardino (17-6) and UC Santa Barbara (6-3).
Hawaii, which had a 6-3 overall record and 4-1 in MPSF play entering the match, took the 1-0 lead at the start of the game when driver Angela Turnbull scored at the 4:57 mark of the first period. With 3:04 left in the first period, Hawaii scored again to get a 2-0 edge.
With 2:10 left in the opening period, the Anteaters were determined to score a goal. Sophomore driver Nikki Frish passed the ball to junior Nicole Flacco, who scored and cut the Hawaii lead to 2-1.
The Anteaters came back at the beginning of the second quarter when junior Gianna Rossi, who leads the team with 14 goals on the year, scored and tied the game at 2-2.
Irvine captured the lead after Frish passed to junior driver Jessica Lewis, who scored with 1:23 left in the second period, bringing the margin to 3-2.
Hawaii evened the game at 3-3 a few moments later. Hawaii continued to score one more goal within the last 20 seconds of the second quarter, allowing Hawaii to re-take the lead with a one-point advantage at halftime 4-3.
The third quarter began with Hawaii expanding its lead to 5-3. The Anteaters followed by scoring a power play goal, 19 seconds after Hawaii took the 5-3 lead, when sophomore driver Sarah Frost scored to cut the Hawaii lead to 5-4.
With 6:49 remaining in the fourth period, Hawaii’s Angela Turnbull answered again, making her third goal of the game and putting Hawaii up 6-4. The Anteaters made one last attempt to settle the score, with sophomore utility driver Julia Fancher scoring a goal at the last 2:48 seconds remaining in the game. Irvine could not close the gap and lost 6-5.
The standout player in the game for the Anteaters was junior keeper Lauren Machanis who made 16 saves in the match, the second highest single match total in UCI history, while Hawaii keeper Meike De Nooy made 10 saves. Machanis, who has a total of 63 saves this year, is second in Anteater history with a total of 494 saves in her college career.
‘It was a great game to come out and play that close,’ Machanis said. ‘It shows a lot and it’s the beginning to a great weekend.’
However, the Anteaters were severely limited by the number of penalties. Irvine was penalized 16 times in the game.
‘We played well. There were certain mistakes we made, but we were getting hammered with the calls and Hawaii certainly had the man advantage,’ said Head Coach Dan Klatt, who is in his third season. ‘I’m disappointed in the result but not in the team.’
Hawaii also had other attributes that gave them the advantage besides the number of players.
‘They’re definitely a bigger team and stronger,’ Francer said. ‘But we used our speed and agility. It was a good game; they came out attacking and we attacked right back.’
The Anteaters split both games the following day in the Anteater Invitational with an impressive win against San Diego State (8-7) and a close 11-7 loss against No. 1-ranked UCLA.
The Anteaters will travel to take on No. 1-ranked UCLA on March 1 and will travel to USC on March 3, before returning home to take on Berkeley on Saturday, March 10 at noon.
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