May 9, 2009


Courtesy UCLA

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Sophomore Megan Burmeister scored the game-winning goal at the buzzer to lead the No. 3-seed UCLA women's water polo team past No. 2-seed Stanford, 12-11, on Saturday afternoon at Eppley Recreation Center on the campus of the University of Maryland.

The victory sends UCLA to its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament championship match, where the Bruins (24-6) will face No. 1-seed USC (26-1) on Sunday at 4 p.m. (PT). Sunday's NCAA championship will be aired lived on CBS College Sports.

In a back-and-forth contest, Burmeister's last-second goal came after UCLA drew a Stanford exclusion, allowing the Bruins to set up a 6-on-5 opportunity in the final five seconds of regulation.

"I'm glad we won, because that was probably my worst-managed game in my coaching career," UCLA head coach Adam Krikorian said. "I played one of our best players with two fouls in the second quarter. I accidentally called a timeout at the end of the game that gave them the game-tying goal. But I was glad the team stepped up. It was one of the gutsiest wins I've been fortunate enough to be a part of."

Senior Tanya Gandy led UCLA with four goals and senior Anne Belden added three. Burmeister finished the semifinal contest with two goals, as the Bruins also received one goal each from sophomores Kelly Easterday and Katie Estrada and senior Katie Rulon.

Stanford's Lauren Silver led the Cardinal with four goals, and Kelly Eaton scored three goals.

UCLA led the contest throughout the first half, securing a 3-1 lead after one quarter and a 5-3 advantage at halftime.

Stanford claimed its first lead midway through the third quarter, overcoming a 6-4 deficit with goals at 3:29 and 2:40 in the period. Stanford's Jessica Steffens took advantage of a 6-on-5 opporutnity, scoring with 95 seconds to play in the third quarter and handing the Cardinal a 7-6 lead, their first of the day.

Gandy scored with 1:23 remaining in the quarter, tying the contest at 7-7. Estrada's goal came with 17 seconds to play in the third period, allowing UCLA to secure an 8-7 lead through three quarters.

Stanford scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to pull ahead, 9-8. Kira Hillman scored with 4:38 to play in the game, increasing Stanford's cushion to 10-8. The Bruins responded with a goal from Gandy at 4:23 and with a game-tying strike from Easterday at 2:37.

After Krikorian accidentally called a timeout while Stanford was on offense with 27 seconds to play, the Cardinal were awarded a five-meter penalty shot, by which Silver converted to tie the contest, 11-11.

Burmeister and the Bruins outlasted Stanford with the game-winning goal at the one-second mark.

Senior goalkeeper Brittany Fullen collected six saves in the cage for UCLA. Stanford's Amber Oland recorded three stops in goal.

UCLA's victory over Stanford sets up a match in the championship contest against crosstown rival USC. The four-time defending national champion Bruins seek their fifth consecutive NCAA championship on Sunday.

"Tomorrow's game is a rematch of last year's championship, and is an exciting opportunity to play our crosstown rival," Krikorian said. "They looked unbeatable today, playing Hawai'i. No question, it's going to be a difficult game. But we've got to regroup and prepare to play the best team in the nation."