Women’s Water Polo Finishes Fourth in NCAA Tournament

Stanford 12, UCI 3

 

UC Irvine’s first final-four game in the history of its women’s water polo program was quite forgettable as they took a massive 12-3 thrashing from No. 1 Stanford on May 12 at the Aztec Aquaplex. Junior Jessy Cardey added one more goal to the UCI single-season scoring record with 69 total goals. Freshman Jillian Yocum made 14 saves, one off a career high, to increase her season total to 191, but her effort wasn’t enough to hold off Stanford’s attack. However, regardless of the result, Head Coach Dan Klatt was proud to have gone this far this season.

“I am extremely proud of the team this season,” said Klatt. “We have made another step forward toward reaching our goal of being national champions. To play in a national semifinal is an incredible achievement.”

The Anteaters opened up the score sheet after earning a penalty shot converted by Cardey. However, this was the only time UCI led in this contest. The Cardinals took advantage of two power plays to take a 2-1 lead. Sophomore Hannah Croghan received a pass from junior Taylor Morrison for a perfect opportunity to score, but Stanford’s Kate Baldoni came up with a big save to maintain the lead. The Cardinals scored a dagger towards the end of the first quarter with less than a second left off a power play to take a 3-1 lead.

UCI’s offense was held silent the majority of the second quarter while Stanford opened up the scoring with a penalty conversion. Although Stanford had Kiley Neushul ejected after she punched Cardey in the face, their offense did not show any signs of slowing. The Cardinals took advantage of another power-play opportunity and a penalty shot to take a 6-1 lead.

With two minutes left in the half, Hannah Croghan finally came through with a power play shot to lower their deficit to 6-2, but Stanford returned the favor with a goal by Pallavi Menon.

The third period was the same as the first two periods, as UCI saw their shots miss while Stanford kept dismantling UCI’s defense on the power plays. Junior Kelsey Klatt scored UCI’s final goal after receiving a pass from Hannah Croghan, as Irvine’s chances of advancing to the finals came in vain. Stanford closed off the third quarter with a 10-3 lead and shut out Irvine’s offense in the final quarter while scoring two more goals to win the match 12-3.

“Stanford is an excellent team,” said Klatt. “They have very few weaknesses and it is difficult to expose them. We were slaves to their experience in the semifinal. We were playing in our program’s first final four while the majority of their team are returning national champions. They were able to control the flow of the game from the beginning, specifically in transition, and we were reacting to their play trying to keep up.”

 

UCI 8, LMU 6

 

On May 11, the Anteaters opened up their NCAA Tournament run with a gritty 8-6 victory over Loyola Marymount University. The UCI women’s water polo team advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the first time in the program’s history, thanks in part to their offense in the first quarter.

The two teams exchanged possessions until Danielle Warde opened up the scoring from a distance into the far corner. Several minutes later, UCI took advantage of a power play as Kelsey Klatt threw a changeup for a 2-0 lead. Hannah Croghan threw another goal from deep to extend the lead.

The Lions called a timeout and came back with a goal of their own to make the score 3-1.

Jessy Cardey opened up the scoring in the second period with her 68th goal of the season, setting a new UCI single-season record.  Annika Bergesen scored off a lob shot after LMU scored to give UCI a 5-2 lead. The Lions struck back in the following possession to lower the gap. Later in the quarter with 45 seconds left, the Lions took advantage of a power play and lowered the gap to one goal thanks to a goal by MacKenzie Beck. But UCI regained the two-goal lead thanks to a huge backhand goal by Michaela Pierandozzi to give UCI a 6-4 lead into the half.

LMU scored in its first possession of the third period with a changeup past Yocum. The Lions had a chance to tie the game up on a power play, but Katie Croghan came up big with a field block to protect UCI’s lead. Cardey would later take advantage of a power play with a two-skip shot to retake the two-goal advantage. Alexandra Honny of LMU found the back of net after escaping a steal attempt by Danielle Warde, but Hannah Croghan threw a change-up into the far corner to give UCI a 8-6 lead.

The Anteaters held on defensively during the final period thanks to some crucial saves by Jillian Yocum. UCI turned on their offense after a timeout towards the end of the quarter and ran down the clock to secure an 8-6 victory.

 

UCLA 10, UCI 9

 

UC Irvine has bowed out of the NCAA tournament in fourth place after falling to UCLA in the consolation match on May 13. The Anteaters finish the season with a 25-8 record overall, two more wins than last season. Jessy Cardey scored five goals in the losing effort, extending the UCI single-season scoring record to 74 goals.