It's time for a rematch.
The NCAA women's water polo championship game pits Stanford against defending champion UCLA a year after the two played in the inaugural title game. The two also met April 28 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title game, which UCLA won.
Neither second-seeded UCLA (22-3) nor top-seeded Stanford (22-2) faced much resistance in setting up the showdown. UCLA defeated third-seeded Loyola Marymount, 11-2, after Stanford beat fourth-seeded Michigan, 13-3, at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium on Saturday.
UCLA jumped to a 2-0 lead when freshman Amber Stachowski scored the first of her two goals and senior Kelly Heuchan netted the first of her game-high three goals in the first two minutes.
"Going into today, we were expecting a hard-fought game with their senior-laden team," UCLA Coach Adam Krikorian said. "The big thing for us was getting off to a good start. Getting the two quick goals was key. Once we did that I knew we were in good shape."
UCLA--a physically bigger team than the Lions--overpowered Loyola (20-8) for most of the game. The Lions' only goals came in the third quarter.
"The slow start hurt us," said Loyola Coach John Loughran, who had five seniors attend graduation ceremonies before Saturday's semifinal. "With them scoring on their first two possessions, I think it set the tone early."
UCLA led, 6-0, at halftime and 10-2 after three quarters.
"We averaged giving up 4.5 goals per game," Loughran said. "We gave up too many easy goals today, and that's uncharacteristic of us. Our goal was to keep them under six, even eight would have been OK."
The Bruins were able to use the semifinal as preparation for the title game since Loyola uses a similar style on defense as Stanford.
"Any time these two teams get together, it's an exciting match," said UCLA junior Robin Beauregard.
The championship game is scheduled for 5 p.m. at McDonald's Swim Stadium, after the third-place game between Loyola and Michigan (25-12) at 3:30 p.m.