San Jose, Calif.----- San Jose State University women's water polo leading scorer Clara Espar Llaquet scored the first goal of the match against #1-ranked UCLA, but the Bruins scored the next four en route to a 7-3 victory over the Spartans in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) opener for both teams.
Rachel Fattal and Mackenzie Barr each scored twice in the first quarter as UCLA (15-1, 1-0 MPSF) won its sixth in a row. After falling behind, 4-2 after the first quarter, San Jose State was able to score only once the rest of the way on a third-quarter power-play goal by senior Victoria Smith.
"They (UCLA) have a solid defense. They're composed and they played well," said San Jose State head coach Johnny Bega whose team yielded just one second-half score after a 6-2 halftime deficit. "We held our own. In the second half, we really came through and stopped them, stopped their counter attack. So, I commend our team for that.
"We earned a lot of ejections, but we didn't put the ball away... We held that team under10 goals. 7-3 is respectable. It shows we still have it."
The Spartans (12-5, 0-1 MPSF) were able to convert just two of their 11 power play opportunities. San Jose State's only even-strength goal of the match came from McKenna Yates with 22.7 seconds left in the first quarter.
"I think we had a real good second half defensively. Some of our mistakes on offense made it easy for them in their offense. That's what killed us," said Espar Llaquet, who complimented UCLA on its strength and overall team speed in the water. Her goal, scored on a power play, was her 42nd of the season. "We had opportunities, but either we missed a shot, missed a pass or throw the ball away or get called for an offensive (foul)."
San José State goalkeeper Katelynn Thompson was credited with seven saves including stopping one of three UCLA penalty shots. UCLA goalkeeper Sami Hill, the 2014 MPSF Player of the Year, stopped 12 Spartan shots. San Jose State did not help itself offensively with shots throughout the match deflecting off the top crossbar or side of the cage.
"I would rate our defense today as OK. I know we gave up only three goals to a very-talented San Jose State team, but I thought we did not play that well. We got kicked out way too often," said UCLA coach Brandon Brooks, whose team is allowing 4.0 goals per match during its current winning streak. "I'm very happy to come out with a win. We did enough to come out with a win, but we are capable of playing a lot better."
San Jose State returns to action, Saturday, March 7, as one of eight and the only West Coast team in the two-day Harvard Invitational.
|Score By Quarters||1||2||3||4||Total|
#1-UCLA (15-1, 1-0 MPSF)
|#9-San Jose State (12-5, 0-1 MPSF)||2||0||1||0||3|
|UCLA - Rachel Fattal, 3; MacKenzie Barr, 2; Alys Williams, Kodi Hill, 1, each.|
|San Jose State - Clara Espar Llaquet, McKenna Yates, Victoria Smith, 1, each.|
|UCLA - Sami Hill - 12.|
|San Jose State - Katelynn Thompson - 7.|
|UCLA - 11.|
|San Jose State - 11.|