DAVIS, Calif. - Senior attacker Kelsey Thornton scored on a bar-in shot with no time remaining in the first sudden-victory preiod, lifting top-seeded and sixth-ranked UC Irvine to an 8-7 win over third-seeded Long Beach State in the championship game of the Big West Conference tournament at Schaal Aquatics Center Sunday afternoon. The Anteaters capture their sixth team title in the nine-year history of the league, and their first since 2014.
Additionally, UCI junior utility Mary Brooks captured tournament Most Valuable Player honors, thanks to a championship-record 10 goals in two games.
CHAMPIONSHIP: UC IRVINE 8, LONG BEACH STATE 7
Brooks netted four goals, Thornton added two, and senior goalkeeper Annika Nelson logged 15 saves to lead UCI to its 8-7 sudden victory over the 12th-ranked 49ers. Meanwhile, LBSU junior Virginia Smith scored three goals and freshman goalkeeper Eirini Patras matched Nelson's 15 stops in the Beach's first title-game appearance since 2011.
After LBSU drew first blood on an Annabelle Harman goal in the first quarter, UCI responded with three straight to hold a 3-1 advantage at the intermission. Thornton assisted Brooks on the third goal of that run with just 34 ticks left in the second quarter. However, the 49ers responde with three unanswered of their own in the third: one by Harman then two from Smith, lifting the Beach to a 4-3 lead with 2:35 to go in the quarter.
The 'Eaters came right back, tying the game on Brooks' goal with 1:35 to go, then regaining the lead at 5-4 when Gabby Pierandozzi fed McKenna Mitchell at two meters to start the fourth. Again, LBSU answered with goals from Marilia Mimidi and Smith to reclaim a 6-5 advantage with plenty of time left in regulation. With less than two minutes remaining in the fourth, a Shockley steal gave way to a Brooks goal at the 1:16 mark, knotting the contest at 6-6. Patras came up with two key blocks in the final seconds to force the overtime periods.
Brooks scored first in the extra time to provide the Anteaters with a 7-6 lead. Shockley blocked a Mimidi shot to protect that lead but Harman soon found Morrissey for another equalizer with 1:08 left. Thornton, Harman and Brooks each fired shots for their respective teams but neither connected, holding the score at 7-7 through the changeover.
UCI had its biggest opportunity to seal the win in the second overtime segment when Brooks drew a five-meter foul on a counterattack. The penalty shot caromed off the post, keeping the score at a 7-7 impasse.
The Anteaters earned their final possession after a ball-under violation with about 35 seconds left in the sudden-victory frame. A Thornton shot barred out, but Long Beach State was charged for another offensive, keeping the ball on the UCI attacking end. Brooks fired a shot, which Patras stopped. However, Thornton recovered the possession at the two spot and fired a desperation toss at the buzzer. The shot glanced off the right post and into the cage for the winner.
Remarkably, UCI shot just .195 (8-for-41) and converted just 1 of 7 power plays. Long Beach State had similar offensive numbers, shooting .233 (7-for-30) with a 1-for-9 success rate on its 6-on-5 chances.
THIRD-PLACE GAME: HAWAII 10, UC DAVIS 9
Junior attacker Sammy Preston scored four goals while sophomore utility Annie Kutt added two goals and four assists, but fourth-seeded UC Davis could not protect its two-goal lead in the third quarter, falling by a 10-9 final to second-seeded Hawai'i in the third-place game of the Big West Conference women's water polo championship at Schaal Aqautics Center.
The Aggies, ranked 11th nationally, ends their season at 16-18. The Rainbow Wahine improves to 15-11 overall.
Paige Virgil added two goals and a game-high five steals for UC Davis. Senior Avery Dotterer tallied 13 saves in her final Aggie game. Junior centers Greta Kohlmoos and Jill Bushman also netted a goal each.
For Hawai'i, junior utility Chloe Barr scored three goals while sophomore Irene Gonzalez contributed another two goals and four steals. Sophomore Carla Abellan assisted on three scores.
The two teams went from a first-quarter defensive battle -- only a Preston goal with five seconds left -- to an offensive shootout in the second. Hawai'i crafted a 2-1 lead in the first two minutes of the frame, then Virgil equalized on a power-play at the 4:14 mark. The Aggies and 'Bows then each poured in four goals in the next four minutes to set the board at 6-6 at halftime.
Senior Hannah Harvey, who assisted Preston for her team's sixth goal to end the first half, fed Kutt and Bushman for back-to-back goals to boost the Aggies to an 8-6 lead by the midpoint of the third. However, Hawai'i responded with three unanswered to regain the lead at 9-8 with 6:24 left in the fourth. Kutt assisted Virgil on another exclusion goal for the game's sixth tie at 9-9 at the five-minute mark. Then with 3:41 remaining in regulation, Maartje Keuning drew a five-meter foul and Barr converted the ensuing penalty shot.
Dotterer guarded the Aggie cage for four more saves after that point, but Wahine senior goalie Sarah Logan stopped three on her end to protect the one-goal lead.
This is the second time the Big West Conference has come to Schaal Aquatics Center, which now will play host to the FINA Intercontinental Tournament from Tuesday through Sunday. Six teams, including the USA, will compete in the 18-game international event.
2017 BIG WEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP, DAY 3
Schaal Aquatics Center (Davis, Calif.)
|No. 4 UC Davis||1||5||2||1||-||9|
|No. 2 Hawai'i||0||6||2||2||-||10|
GOALS - UC DAVIS: Sammy Preston 3, Annie Kutt 2, Paige Virgil 2, Greta Kohlmoos 1, Jill Bushman 1. UH: Chloe Barr 3, Irene Gonzalez 2, Carla Abellan 1, Julia Barton 1, Maarte Keuning 1, Claire Nixon 1, Nikki-Marie Bell 1.
GOALIE SAVES - UC DAVIS: Avery Dotterer 13 (32:00). UH: Sarah Logan 7 (32:00). CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
|No. 3 Long Beach State)||1||0||3||2||1||0||-||7|
|No. 1 UC Irvine||1||2||1||2||1||1||-||8|