LOS ANGELES -- Second-seeded UCLA advanced to the finals of the NCAA tournament on Saturday evening, defeating the defending champions Southern California 5-3 at the Trojans’ Uytensu Aquatics Center. The Bruins improved to 27-4 while the Trojans dropped to 25-4.
Seeking its 111th NCAA title, the Bruins will face top-seeded Stanford (24-1), which is making its fifth-consecutive appearance in the title game. Stanford defeated No. 4 California 12-8 in the first semifinal. The Bruins are the only team to defeat the Cardinal this season and will face Stanford at 8:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
UCLA was led by freshman Mackenzie Barr with two goals. Monica Vavic led the Trojans with two scores.Sophomore Kodi Hill got the Bruins on the board first with a cross-cage score off a feed from senior Kelly Ronimus at the 5:49 mark. Freshman Mackenzie Barr fired a shot near post to put UCLA up 2-0 with 1:46 left in the first. Monica Vavic fired a low skipper that found the back of the net to trim the lead to 2-1 with :28 to go, ending the scoring in the opening period.
Vavic tied it at 2-2, her second score of the game, on a penalty shot with 6:58 to go in the second quarter. Barr then scored her second of the game on a near post skip shot, giving the Bruins a 3-2 lead with 3:32 to go. Sophomore Rachel Fattal scored her first goal against USC this season on a power play strike off a nice feed from Kodi Hill to push the lead to 4-2 with :30 remaining, giving the Bruins a two-goal advantage at the break.
USC scored its second goal on a penalty shot to open the third when Stephania Haralabidis fired a low skipper cross-cage with 5:01 to go to make it 4-3. It was the only score of the period in a defensive battle that saw both teams unable to capitalize on power plays.
In the fourth quarter, junior Emily Donohoe fired a shot from deep to push the Bruins' lead to 5-3 (5:54), ending a 10-minute scoring drought for UCLA. From there, the Bruins' defense stymied USC, holding the Trojans scoreless in the final period.
Sami Hill ended with eight saves, allowing just three goals in the cage for the Bruins. Flora Bolonyai was credited with seven stops in goal for the Trojans.