UCLA takes women’s title in water polo
PALO ALTO -- Tanya Gandy scored twice and UCLA’s top-ranked water polo team finished another undefeated season with a 6-3 victory over USC in the championship game of the NCAA tournament Sunday.
Courtney Mathewson, Anne Belden, Priscilla Orozco and Gabrielle Domanic each added a goal.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” UCLA Coach Adam Krikorian said. “We played with so much heart. We weren’t great offensively, but we were in the first period. Getting off to a good start settled us down and got us going.”
The Bruins (33-0) won their fourth consecutive national title, and added another championship trophy to the school’s collection. Last year’s title was the school’s 100th, making it the first school to reach the century mark. They added No. 101 on Sunday.
UCLA has won 14 consecutive NCAA tournament games and is 17-1 overall, losing only to Stanford in the 2002 title contest. This is the third UCLA sports team to record four straight national titles, joining men’s basketball (1967-73) and men’s volleyball (1981-84).
“It’s pretty incredible,” Mathewson said. “We’re not thinking about it going through the process but to think back to all the success we’ve had the past four years . . . it’s an awesome accomplishment.”
Michelle Stein, Veronika Bartunkova and Miranda Nichols scored for USC (21-8), which played in its first championship game in two years.
The Bruins scored the first three goals in the first three minutes and employed a smothering defense to prevent a comeback.
“They had a strong start, and we might have been a little nervous,” Bartunkova said. “We started playing well, but it was too late.”
Gandy, named the tournament most valuable player, scored with three minutes left in the second period to give UCLA a 5-1 halftime advantage.
Stein scored late in the third period as USC drew within 5-2.
The Bruins scored early in the fourth period, but Nichols scored with 5:30 left.
“We had some nervous energy,” Nichols said. “They have a lot more experience than we do. They came out stronger than we did.”
Brittany Fullen recorded five of her six saves in the third period for the Bruins, who held their seventh opponent to three goals or fewer, including two shutouts in that span.
UCLA improved to 36-12 against USC, including a 3-0 mark in NCAA play.
In consolation matches, Stanford beat UC Davis, 15-8; San Diego State topped Michigan, 12-9; and Pomona-Pitzer edged Marist, 7-6.