PALO ALTO, Calif. – The unscientific consensus at Avery Aquatic Center was that UCLA had no chance to re-enact its upset victory over the Cardinal back in February at the UCI Invitational. Bay Area Peninsula locals and cousins KK Clark and Becca Dorst helped prove the quorum wrong in a scintillating overtime conference championship victory for the Bruins. With it UCLA could receive the top seed in the NCAA Championship Tournament in San Diego two weeks from now.
At Irvine in February the Bruins' defense stifled Stanford's creativity and speed, and predictions were they would attempt the same today. But this afternoon's physical match did not result in the slow-burn yawner many expected. Instead, Dorst and Clark laced shots from inside and out with pace and Sarah Orozco was fearless at center-forward, drawing Stanford's defenders from the perimeter and scoring a lovely backhand immediately after a Stanford ejection. Something of a throwback, the match featuring several one-on-nobody counterattacks, bold attacking of open water, risky passes to interior players, and (by Stanford in particular) purposeful and often rewarding driving for inside water. Creativity and risk were on full display for a change, and the crowd was rewarded for it even if the hometown Cardinal was not.
For Stanford, Senior Pallavi Menon shined with her well-timed and crafty driving, and her seeming inability to be caught out of position while touted freshmen Kiley Neushul and Kaley Dodson combined for four goals but were thwarted by the Bruins' defense on several other occasions.
Final selections for the NCAA Championship Tournament will be revealed tomorrow, April 30, at 5pm on ncaa.com when two at-large teams will be confirmed and seedings for the tournament will be set.