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With clutch saves from Phillips, UCLA women’s water polo defeats Cal in rematch

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Georgia Phillips watches the ball fly toward the goal as she attempts to block it. Phillips’ 18 saves tied a career high as the Bruins held No. 5 California to six goals. (Julia Zhou/Daily Bruin)

Women's Water Polo


No. 5 California6
No. 3 UCLA11

By Felicia Keller

April 16, 2023 1:53 p.m.

Save after save, redshirt senior goalkeeper Georgia Phillips kept the Bruins ahead of the Golden Bears with a career-high-tying 18 blocks.

Behind Phillips’ 75% save rate, No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (19-4, 4-1 MPSF) defeated No. 5 California (17-7, 3-2) for the first time this season Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Center. With a final score of 11-6, the Bruins allowed the fewest number of goals against a top-10 opponent all season.

The Bruins picked up two goals in the first four minutes but went scoreless for the rest of the quarter, needing Phillips’ four saves during the span to keep them in the lead by one at the end of the period.

Sophomore attacker Emma Lineback, who scored the first goal of the day, said the energy was high to start the game.

“I thought today was just lights out for us,” Lineback said. “We came out with a lot of energy and were able to go start to finish with a lot of energy.”

Midway through the second quarter, with UCLA still leading by one goal, Phillips was called for the first exclusion of her collegiate career, giving Cal an open net to fire at. Despite the rare play, the Bruin defense stood strong as senior attacker Brooke Doten made the block.

Despite being in unfamiliar territory after the exclusion, Phillips believed in her team.

“I just had full faith because we’ve practiced it before,” Phillips said. “It was really, really exciting to watch them get that block.”

With the Bruins scoring as time expired on the next possession, associate head coach Jason Falitz added that the play gave the team a huge boost.

Phillips finished picking up two stops on the counterattack and 18 saves – more than any goalkeeper for No. 1 USC or No. 2 Stanford all season.

“She brings the same mentality every day to our training that she does to the games,” Falitz said. “She goes out of her way to watch extra video and shots before games, so we knew she was going to be dialed in for this one. And she had an amazing game for us. She bailed us out on a couple of them.”

Even though the Bruins’ scoring stayed steady throughout the game with three goals in each of the final three quarters – it was their defense that clinched the game, allowing just two goals through the second half.

In a show of depth, Lineback dented the twine twice, pacing the team, alongside freshman attacker Taylor Smith and graduate student utility Katrina Drake. Overall, eight Bruins scored on Saturday.

Lineback said making up for their loss against Cal earlier this season at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational added to the win.

“It definitely felt really good to avenge that loss because I think that last showing wasn’t who we are as a team,” Lineback said. “This was a lot stronger of a team than at Kalbus.”

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Felicia Keller
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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