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Maddie Musselman tops women’s water polo program scoring list after UC Irvine game

Redshirt senior attacker Maddie Musselman scored her 238th career goal Friday to move atop the Bruins’ all-time leaderboard. Musselman scored two goals in the contest as No. 2 UCLA women’s water polo topped No. 6 UC Irvine. (Shane Yu/Daily Bruin)

Women's Water Polo


No. 6 UC Irvine8
No. 2 UCLA14

By Cole Lizar

March 12, 2022 1:12 p.m.

A new name sits atop the Bruins’ all-time scoring list.

Behind redshirt senior attacker Maddie Musselman’s program-leading 238th goal, No. 2 UCLA women’s water polo (21-1, 3-0 MPSF) beat No. 6 UC Irvine (13-5, 2-0 Big West) by a score of 14-8 on Friday at Spieker Aquatics Center. The Bruins now sit at 31-0 in the all-time series against the Anteaters.

Irvine got out to a two-goal lead by the first quarter buzzer, marking the second time this season that UCLA has faced a multiple-point deficit at the end of the first period.

“We got off to a really slow start,” said junior attacker Hannah Palmer. “We picked up the energy later, but we need to work on starting strong and keeping that same energy all the way through.”

The Bruins picked up the energy in the second quarter, taking the lead in the final minute of the half on a converted power play by senior attacker Val Ayala. The power-play goal capped off a second frame in which UCLA outscored Irvine by three points.

Through the opening 16 minutes, the Bruins were led by two goals apiece from Palmer and Ayala. At the end of the first half, the blue and gold held a 6-5 advantage.

After being held scoreless in the opening half, Musselman found the back of the net in the opening moments of the third period – good for goal No. 238 and etching her name in UCLA history.

With the goal, Musselman officially passed Kelly Rulon to claim the top spot on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list.

Coach Adam Wright said Musselman has the ability to change the momentum of games.

“Within a game, (Musselman) can change the situation,” Wright said. “There are going to be moments where we struggle, but she has the ability to get us back on track.”

Musselman said she is joining her heroes on the list of Bruins’ all-time scorers.

“I’ve looked up to the people on that list for a long time,” Musselman said. “Coralie (Simmons) and Kelly are people that I’ve always tried to emulate as a player. I watched them in the Olympics growing up, and to be on the same list as them, no matter what number, is something that I’m very humbled by.”

Musselman’s historic goal was one of six for UCLA in the third quarter. In the same amount of time, the Bruins held the Anteaters to a single point.

Irvine started the fourth quarter of play with a converted six-on-five opportunity in the opening 15 seconds from attacker Elena Flynn. The Anteaters matched the Bruins’ scoring in the final eight minutes but still finished the game with a six-point deficit.

Musselman said the team finished well after a difficult start to the game.

“We learned from each moment and moved past that first quarter,” Musselman said. “We responded well. I don’t think we started well, but we responded well following that first quarter.”

UCLA has two weeks of rest before its next contest, when the Bruins host a rematch against the team that delivered their sole loss of the season – No. 1 Stanford.

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Cole Lizar | Sports contributor
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
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