Los Angeles, Calif.-----The San Jose State University women's water polo team nearly pulled off its biggest win in its 15-year history.
With 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, junior Anna Natalizio (Irvine, Calif.) scored her third goal of the match giving the Spartans (12-8, 0-3 MPSF) its fourth one-goal lead, 5-4.
However, UCLA's Sarah Orozco and Emily Greenwood combined for three goals the rest of the way giving the Bruins (14-1, 3-0 MPSF) a 7-5 win in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match.
In nine previous matches dating back to 2006, San Jose State had lost to UCLA by an average of 8.5 goals and were never closer than last year's 9-4 defeat by the Bruins.
AN EFFORT WORTHY OF A WIN
"We played well enough to win. We were in the game all the way through," said San Jose State head coach Lou Tully.
"In the first quarter, I felt really good about our defense. That was the key. Our defense carried us and got us going. Our offense still is a work in progress, but if I had a choice, that's what I would choose."
Orozco scored her two goals in a 35-second span to give UCLA a 6-5 lead with 3:09 to go. Greenwood added an insurance score at the 1:47 mark.
Neither team led by more than a goal until the last two minutes. Natalizio's first score tied the match at 1-1 in the second quarter.
San Jose State took the lead, 2-1, for the first time early in the third quarter on a Dani Curran goal. Natalizio's second score gave the Spartans a 3-2 advantage. Katie Buzzetta's power-play goal at the end of the third quarter put San Jose State ahead, 4-3.
KK Clark, the Bruins' leading scorer on the season, evened the score at 4-4 on a penalty shot with 6:15 prior to Natalizio notching her fourth "hat trick" of the season.
MINSON RETURNS IN GOAL
Goalkeepers Meagan Minson for San Jose State and UCLA's Caitlin Dement, the current MPSF Player of the Week, were credited with eight saves each.
"She (Minson) had some great saves. It was was a confidence boost for us," Tully said about having the Spartans' number-one goalkeeper back in the lineup after being held out of the Harvard Invitational for medical reasons.
San Jose State returns to action, Saturday, March 24, at Hawaii in a MPSF match.
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Women's Water Polo Match
Spieker Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
March 10, 2012
|#10-San Jose State (12-8, 0-3 MPSF)||0||1||3||1||5|
|#1-UCLA (14-1, 3-0 MPSF)||0||1||2||4||7|
San Jose State - Anna Natalizio, 3; Dani Curran, 1; Katie Buzzetta, 1.
UCLA -Sarah Orozco, 2; Emily Greenwood, 2; Gisselle Naranjo, 1; Hannah Sebenaler, 1; KK Clark, 1.
San Jose State - Meagan Minson, 8.
UCLA - Caitlin Dement, 8.
San Jose State - 9.
UCLA - 7.