LA JOLLA — The compulsory competition at the NCAA women's water polo championships went off without any stumbles, slips or falls Saturday at UC San Diego.
As expected, UCLA and Stanford advanced to today's title game for the third consecutive season, leaving two overmatched opponents in their wake.
The second-seeded Bruins topped Loyola Marymount, 8-2, in the second semifinal, getting two goals each from Ashley Stachowski, Kelly Rulon and Jessica Lopez and converting on all five extra-man situations.
Stanford, which won the inaugural NCAA championships in 2001 before losing to the Bruins last season, returned to the title game with a 13-2 victory over Indiana in the first semifinal.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday May 13, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Water polo -- It was incorrectly reported in Sports articles Sunday and Monday that UCLA won the NCAA women's water polo championship in 2002 and that Stanford won it in 2001. UCLA won the title in 2001, Stanford in 2002.
UCLA Coach Adam Krikorian doesn't need to inspire his team for today's rematch against the top-seeded Cardinal. The teams split their last two meetings in the NCAA championship games, and the Bruins are also motivated by a 3-2 sudden-death loss to Stanford two weeks ago in the final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
"It will be a different type of energy level, unlike two weeks ago," Krikorian said. "We wanted to win [the conference championship] but in the back of our minds, we knew going in we had already achieved what wanted to achieve."
Krikorian knew UCLA, the top-ranked team in the country going into the conference championships, would likely receive the lone at-large berth for the NCAA championships.
And for this NCAA appearance, the Bruins spent more time preparing for their semifinal, actually studying videotape of the Lions.
"In the past, we would just talk verbally about the strengths and weaknesses of our semifinal opponent," he said.
In the first quarter, the Bruins led, 3-1, when LMU turned the ball over with the man advantage. UCLA scored seconds later on a counterattack goal by Stachowski, giving the Bruins a 4-1 lead midway through the second quarter.
"That was a key part of the game," said LMU Coach John Loughran. "It was a two-goal switch."
LMU junior Jamie Kroeze, who has been playing against many of the UCLA players since she was at Santa Margarita High, said the Bruins' heady play was too much to overcome.
"They kind of capitalize on their experience," said Kroeze. "They are a very fast team and they capitalize on mistakes."