USC women’s water polo destroys UCLA for another NCAA title
The top-seeded Trojans rewrite the record books with an 18-9 humiliation over their third-seeded rivals
OC Register staff — LOS ANGELES — The USC women’s water polo team left no doubt who rules the pool now.
The top-seeded Trojans crushed third-seeded rival UCLA, 18-9, for their seventh national title on Sunday at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center – setting records for the most goals scored and the largest margin of victory (the previous mark was only four) ever in an NCAA women’s water polo championship match.
Redshirt seniors Maud Megens (six goals, three assists) and Holly Parker (left; career-high 13 saves) set the tone on both ends in a well-balanced effort for the Trojans (22-1 overall), who avenged their only loss of the season. Parker kept UCLA’s leading scorer Hannah Palmer without a goal.
The national title is the university’s 109th NCAA team championship (132nd, including non-NCAA titles), coming just one week after the USC women’s beach volleyball team bested UCLA to win its national title in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
USC never trailed on Sunday, turning a one-goal game in the first period into a 10-goal advantage by the fourth as the Trojans took total control in the second period. The Trojans led 3-2 in the first, then used a six-goal surge to establish control of the match. USC led 10-5 at halftime, already tying the mark for the most goals scored by a winner in an NCAA final. Bayley Weber, Mireia Guiral, Verica Bakoc and Megens all had two goals by halftime.
UCLA (15-5) scored first in the second half, but the Trojans used a four-goal flurry to extend their lead to 14-6. Bakoc, Weber and Megens scored their third goals during that surge, while Kelsey McIntosh scored her first. UCLA converted on a 5-meter penalty shot in the final minute of the third period before Megens buried her fourth goal to make it 15-7 USC entering the fourth.
Megens (left) added back-to-back goals in the final period, and Bakoc’s fourth pushed the margin to 18-7 with 1:42 left.
Abbi Hill had three goals and two assists to lead UCLA, while Ava Johnson added two.
“They were pretty much lights out,” UCLA head coach Adam Wright said.
USC’s Megens was named NCAA Tournament MVP, while Denise Mammolito and Parker were named to the all-tournament first team. UCLA’s Brooke Maxson and Ava Johnson were also named to the first team.
USC lost to Stanford, 9-8, in the 2019 national championship after having defeated the Cardinal in the 2018 national championship. There was no 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.