It was a humble end to a strong season for UCLA women’s water polo, as it fell to Stanford in the NCAA championship semifinals.
In their fourth and final meeting of the year, the Bruins’ offense was unable to overcome the Cardinal, costing the team a chance to compete in the NCAA title game.
After beating Princeton in the quarterfinals, the women’s water polo team advanced to the semifinals where it fell to the two-time defending champions, Stanford, in a 5-3 loss.
This game was one of UCLA’s best showings against Stanford, but the Cardinal defense managed to keep the Bruins from surpassing them, preventing UCLA from capitalizing on almost every possession.
“I think we definitely went out attacking instead of letting them walk all over us, so we showed more aggressiveness,” said sophomore attacker Emily Donohoe. “This was definitely our best game against them.”
UCLA’s defense managed to keep Stanford down to only five goals, with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sami Hill registering 11 saves.
On Sunday, the Bruins had to rally to end their season with a consolation game win over Hawai’i.
“I think coming off of the Stanford game was really hard for us but, in order to for us to do well in the next game we had to forget about what happened,” Hill said.
“Yeah, it really sucks losing, but we didn’t want to go home with fourth (place), there was no way we were going home with fourth.”
The team went on to win third place, beating Hawai’i 13-8. “I think this is always a very difficult game to play in but I thought my team did great,” said Brooks in a Sunday press conference. “Emotionally and mentally, this game is much harder than it is physically.”
Donohoe ended her sophomore season with 70 goals, edging herself into third place in UCLA history for goals in a season, followed by freshman attacker Rachel Fattal’s 68 goals, putting her in seventh place.
“I’m thrilled to have scored that many times and so grateful for my teammates for setting me up for all those goals,” Fattal said.
Another striking feat came from Hill, who recorded 13 saves against Hawai’i.
“I can’t wait for next season just to avenge ourselves, to come back next year and show teams that we’re not to be underestimated,” Hill said. “And I think we definitely showed that at this tournament.”