UCLA Women’s Water Polo Completes Perfect Season With NCAA Title

Courtesy: UCLA Athletics

BERKELEY, Calif. — No. 1 UCLA (26-0) captured its eighth NCAA Championship and its 12th National Championship in program history with a 7-4 win at No. 3 California (19-7) on Sunday evening at Spieker Aquatics Complex. With the win, UCLA improved to 65-14 all-time against the Golden Bears.

UCLA completed just the third undefeated season in program history, joining the 2005 (33-0) and 2008 (33-0) teams. Just five squads ever have now had perfect runs to NCAA Championships, with USC doing it twice (2004 and 2016).

The Bruins registered the 123rd NCAA title in UCLA athletic department history. UCLA women’s water polo has won 12 national championships in all, with four predating the first NCAA one. Head coach Adam Wright, who has guided the UCLA men’s water polo program to four NCAA titles, did so for the first time at the helm of the women’s team.

Freshmen starred for UCLA Sunday, with Panni Szegedi scoring three goals. Fellow first-year standout Lauren Steele got the start in the cage and went the distance, recording 17 saves while allowing four goals. Also scoring for the Bruins were freshman Natasha Kieckhafer, senior Anneliese Miller and sophomores Anna PearsonGenoa Rossi and Taylor Smith.

The Golden Bears struck first (2:36) for the first goal of the game, but the Bruins tied it up with 0:15 left to end the scoring in the period with a strike from the front court by Miller.

The Bruins took their first lead of the game on a front court score from freshman Natasha Kieckhafer (4:59) off a feed from Pearson to make it 2-1. California’s Rozanne Voorvelt scored from the front court (3:31) to end the scoring in the second period with the game tied at the break, 2-2.

Sophomore Genoa Rossi put the Bruins up 3-2 when she scored off a feed from senior Malia Allen (7:34). Cal’s Maddie DeMattia would tie the game at 3-3 (2:56) with a one-timer on a power play. Szegedi would put the Bruins back in front, 4-3, with a nearside skipper (0:43).

The first multi-goal lead of the game came when Szegedi made the most of a six-on-five chance (5:07). The lead was extended once more with an extra player in the pool, as Smith got on the board to double up the Golden Bears (2:04). DeMattia cut into the deficit momentarily with her second (0:32), but Szegedi completed her hat trick seconds later with Cal’s goal left untended.

No. 1 UCLA at No. 3 California (NCAA Championship – Game 26)

No. 1 UCLA 1 1 2 3 7
No. 3 California 1 1 1 1 4

6×5 – UCLA – 2/7 – CAL – 2/4
Penalties – UCLA – 0/0 – CAL – 0/0

UCLA Goals: Panni Szegedi 3, Anneliese Miller 1, Natasha Kieckhafer 1, Genoa Rossi 1, Taylor Smith 1
UCLA Saves: Lauren Steele 17

CAL Goals: Maddie DeMattia 2, Maryn Dempsey 1, Rozanne Voorvelt 1
CAL Saves: Isabel Williams 11

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