UCLA Wins MPSF Women’s Water Polo Championship

Courtesy: UCLA Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — No. 1 UCLA (23-0, 6-0 MPSF) won its 12th MPSF Championship in program history, and its first since 2017, with a 13-10 win over No. 3 California (17-6) on Sunday afternoon at Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center. With the win, UCLA improved to 64-14 all-time against the Golden Bears.

UCLA had eight different players score in the contest, which was double what the Bruins had last time out against the Golden Bears. The Bruins were paced by hat tricks from senior Malia Allen and sophomore Taylor Smith. Both players added an assist to finish with game-high scoring honors for the Bruins with four points.  Graduate student Hannah Palmer joined the pair in game-high scoring honors with four points (two goals and two assists).

Freshman Lauren Steele got the start in the cage and played the majority of the game, recording 14 saves and one steal while surrendering nine goals. Senior Sydney Chiang came on in relief for the final 1:41 of the fourth quarter and allowed one goal.

UCLA scored the first three goals of the game and never looked back. Allen scored the first goal of the game (5:33) followed by a goal from freshman Becca Melanson (3:47) and a goal from the front court by senior Anneliese Miller (1:25). After a score by California (1:07), UCLA’s Molly Renner had an immediate response (0:57) with a strike from the front court to end the scoring in the first period with UCLA leading 4-1.

Smith opened the scoring in the second period (7:37) to push the lead to 5-1. The Golden Bears scored (6:26) a second goal, but Allen scored her first (4:40) to keep it a four-goal lead. Then sophomore Anna Pearson scored a powerful goal from two meters (3:38) to extend the lead to 7-2. Cal scored a power play goal (2:58) to end the scoring in the second period with the Bruins leading 7-3 at the break.

UCLA scored the first two goals of the third period with Allen netting her second (6:03) and sophomore Lily Gess scoring her first (5:22) to make it 9-3 Bruins. California would score back-to-back goals to trim the Bruins’ lead to 9-5, but UCLA responded with back-to-back goals, the first of which was by Palmer (2:37) and the latter from Smith (1:35) to make it 11-5. The Golden Bears scored the final goal of the third period to make it 11-6 heading into the final stanza.

Smith completed her hat trick to open the scoring in the fourth (5:06), doubling up the Golden Bears, 12-6. From that point on, the Bruins would begin running out the clock and ceding each possession at the end of the shot clock. Meanwhile, Cal scored a pair of goals to cut into the Bruins lead at 12-8. Palmer netted her second of the game (1:23) after catching a rebound off the post on an errant shot from Cal and then scoring on a half-tank shot after an ordinary foul with the Golden Bears having an open net to put the Bruins up 13-8. California would score on its last two possessions (0:45 and 0:05) to provide the 13-10 final.

UP NEXT: With the automatic bid and being the only undefeated team in the NCAA, the Bruins expect to be the No. 1 seed for the upcoming 2024 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship to be hosted by California from May 10-12. UCLA and the rest of the field will find out selections and seedings on NCAA.com tomorrow, April 29, at 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET.

No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 3 California (MPSF Championship – Final – Game 23)

No. 3 California 1 2 3 4 10
No. 1 UCLA 4 3 4 2 13

6×5 – UCLA – 0/6 – CAL – 1/5
Penalties – UCLA – 0/0 – CAL – 1/1

CAL Goals: Rozanne Voorvelt 3, Maryn Dempsey 2, Mallory Reynoso 1, Maddie DeMattia 1, Elena Flynn 1, Abbi Magee 1, Reagan Whitney 1
CAL Saves: Isabel Williams 9

UCLA Goals: Taylor Smith 3, Malia Allen 3, Hannah Palmer 2, Becca Melanson 1, Molly Renner 1, Lily Gess 1, Anneliese Miller 1, Anna Pearson 1
UCLA Saves: Lauren Steele 14, Sydney Chiang 0

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