May 16, 2010

Courtesy of UCLA Athletics

SAN DIEGO - The No. 3 seed UCLA Bruins women's water polo team (22-8) came out firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 6-2 lead after the first period and never looked back, beating Michigan (32-7) 9-6 in the fifth-place match of the 2010 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship at the Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego on Sunday afternoon (May 16).

"I'm really proud of my team today," UCLA Head Coach Brandon Brooks said. "I'm really proud with how we came out. We had a lot of energy and executed really well. We came out and did a great job of talking to each other. The defense was very solid like it has been the second half of the year. We were faced with a tough road after losing on the first day and we responded about as well as you could."

The Bruins got on the board first when Grace Reynolds beat Michigan goalie Alex Adamson on the first possession of the match with 7:37 to go in the first period. Reynolds made it 2-0 at the 6:40 mark with a skip shot that scored on UCLA's second possession. The Wolverines scored their first goal on a penalty shot by Lauren Orth with 6:18 left in the opening period. Reynolds continued her hot hand, completing a hat trick on a 6-on-5 opportunity with 5:43 remaining in the first, giving UCLA a 3-1 lead. UCLA scored another exclusion goal with 4:45 left, this one by KK Clark, to lead 4-1. Michigan made it 4-2 with 4:20 left when Lauren Colton scored from point-blank range, beating Bruin goalkeeper Caitlin Dement. Priscilla Orozco put UCLA up 5-2 with 3:49 on an exclusion goal, marking the Bruins' fifth-straight goal on five consecutive possessions. Orozco made it six straight possessions with a score when her screw shot beat Adamson to make it 6-2 with 3:04 left in the first period. Michigan got a stop on a Bruin power play on UCLA's seventh possession to stop the scoring streak. But the damage had been done with the Bruins holding a 6-2 lead after the first period.

"That's always your plan -- score on all your possessions, which would be nice," Brooks said. "The plan was definitely to come out strong, come out aggressive. I didn't know we scored on the first six possessions, but we did that well. It's a tribute to how strong we are emotionally and how much we have grown since last September."

Michigan made a switch in the cage to start the second period, subbing in Morgan Turner. UCLA scored on a counter attack to open the scoring for the second period as Orozco completed her hat trick on a goal with 4:15 left to put the Bruins up 7-2. That would be the only score of the second stanza as the Bruins took a 7-2 lead at the break. Dement was stellar in goal for UCLA as she recorded six saves in the first half for the Bruins.

"I thought at first I'd feel more motivated and have a lot of emotions in the game," Reynolds said. "I wanted to go out and give it all I've got and that is what the team did as well."

Michigan scored first in the third on a 6-on-5 play when Alison Mantel fired a shot past Dement in the upper corner to make it 7-3 with 5:01 to go. Orozco scored her fourth goal of the day, and the Bruins' fourth consecutive goal, when she pulled off a 360 move and fired a shot past Turner, giving the Bruins an 8-3 lead with 3:00 minutes left in the third period. The Wolverines trimmed the lead to 8-4 when Kiki Golden fired a shot cross-cage on a power play with 1:21 left in the third. UCLA led 8-4 at the end of three quarters.

Turner stopped a penalty shot by Clark early in the fourth period to keep Michigan within striking distance. Clark scored her second goal of the day and the first of the fourth period when she caught Turner off her line and fired one into the middle of the net from nine meters out, giving UCLA a 9-4 advantage with 3:02 remaining in the match. Cara Reitz then caught Dement off her line and made it 9-5 with her first goal of the match with 2:08 left. Michigan closed the scoring at 9-6 on a breakaway goal with six seconds left in the match by Leah Robertson.

Dement ended the match with nine saves for UCLA while Turner recorded five for Michigan and Adamson picked up one for the Wolverines in the first period.

"Emotionally, it was a little hard," Dement said. "It wasn't really hard to play, but emotionally coming off of losing and not making it to the top the four and being on the other side of the bracket was a little difficult, but it is still the same game."