MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Megan Reese (Sr., Clovis, Calif.) scored twice to claim Player of the Game honors as No. 1-ranked the University of California-Davis was pushed to the limit, but survived, as the Aggies knocked off No. 3 University of Central Florida by a 6-5 final score to claim the program's second consecutive National Collegiate Club Championship.
The championship marks the second consecutive crown for the Aggies as UC-Davis becomes the third team to claim back-to-back National Championships as Michigan State University (2001, 2002) and California Polytechnic State University (2003, 2004, 2005; 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) previously accomplished the feat since 2000.
Last year, UC-Davis stopped then No. 1 ranked California Polytechnic State University 2-1 in the lowest scoring National Collegiate Club Championship or National Athletic Association (NCAA) water polo title game in the history of the sport.
However, this year Davis equaled its offensive output from a year ago against the Mustangs in the first seven minutes versus the Lady Knights to build a lead it would never relinquish.
Following nearly five minutes of back-and-forth scoreless action in the first quarter, UC-Davis finally solved the Central Florida defense and goalie Taylor Reeves (Jr., Orlando, Fla.) as Chelsie Bryan (Sr., Danville, Calif.) unleashed a blast from center cage that sailed into the cage and staked the Aggies to a 1-0 lead with 2:22 to play in the quarter.
Central Florida had a chance to balance the scoreboard nine seconds later when Bryan was called for a penalty, but the shot was no good to keep the Aggies in the lead.
Danica Fascella (Jr., Fountain Valley,. Calif.) padded the margin to 2-0 prior to the end of the opening quarter as she floated a ball up and into the cage to bypass Reeves with 1:04 on the clock.
In a pattern that consistently occurred throughout the game, the defensive units of both squads locked down to prevent multiple scoring opportunities as neither team would strike aain until the 3:48 mark of the second quarter.
Following 4:16 of scoreless action, the Aggies struck again to push their lead out to 3-0 as Rebecca Cullinan (So., San Francisco, Calif.) sprung free for a man-up tally with 3:48 remaining in the first half.
UCF finally broke through exactly one minute after Cullinan's strike as Kristin Plitnik (So., Hollywood, Fla.) put away a shot with 2:28 on the clock to pull the Lady Knights within 3-1 prior to halftime.
UC-Davis attempted to get the goal back, however, prior to the conculsion of the half as Hana Korb (Jr., Lake Worth, Fla.) suffered a five-meter penalty call. However, Reeves blocked away the attempt to keep her team within striking distance going into the second half.
Central Florida's comeback dreams appeared to end in the first four minutes of the third quarter as Davis scored in all three manners (natural, penaly, man-up) in an effort to break the Lady Knight's spirits.
Elizabeth Mock (So., San Diego, Calif.) started the 3-0 run with 6:17 left in the quarter by sweeping a ball past Reeves to make it 4-1. Eighty-nine seconds later it was Reese's turn to apparently ice the win as the Player of the Game rocketed a five-meter penalty shot into the twine following a call against UCF's Emily Tilman (Jr., Miami, Fla.) at the 4:48 mark for a 5-1 lead. Finally, Megan Reese (Sr., Clovis, Calif.) took advantage of an exclusion to Reeves to uncork an empty-net goal on a six-on-five chance with 3:03 to construct the margin to 6-1.
However, although the team would not pull even prior to the final buzzer, the Lady Knights did get mad in hitting the Aggies with a flurry of goals over the remaining 10 minutes of competition to make it a game down the stretch.
Alison Mantel (Gr., Miami, Fla.), who would claim Tournament Most Valuable Player honors in the award-ceremony following the title game, started Central Florida's rally by finding a way around the outstretched arms of UC-Davis goalie Samantha Miglian (Sr., San Mateo, Calif.) with 34 seconds left in the period to move within 6-2.
UC-Davis would not stop trying to finish off the Lady Knights as Laura Zuluaga (Jr., Orlando, Fla.) was called for a five-meter penalty, but Reeves swatted the Aggies attempt out of the air to hold the defending National Champions off the board the rest of the way in the contest.
Central Florida dominated the final seven minutes of action in the fourth quarter as Zuluaga made up for the five-meter call by beating Miglian at the 6:01 mark to close the gap to 6-3. After close to four minutes of action without a tally, Plitnik struck again with 2:19 on the clock to make it 6-4.
Over the next two minutes, UCF had a trio of opportunities to move closer, but the team would not get on the board again until Lauren Scheetz (Jr., Orlando, Fla.) netted a man-up goal with 45 seconds to go.
Down 6-5 with the game-clock not in their favor, Central Florida could not find the equalizer as UC-Davis held on to claim the program's second consecutive National Championship.
For Davis, Reese led the way with a pair of markers, while Cullinan, Mock, Bryan and Fascella each tacked on solo tallies in the victorious effort.
Central Florida was led by the play of Reeves in the cage as the transfer from the University of Maryland stopped 12 shots to help her team go down to the final seconds against the No. 1 team in the nation.
On offense, Plitnick contributed two goals, while Mantel, Zuluaga and Scheetz each chipped in single scores.
For leading his team to the program's second consecutive National Championship, UC-Davis head man Jonathan Gullone was honored with a Coach of the Tournament nod in a postgame awards ceremony.
In terms of the impact on the future championships, due to UC-Davis claiming the crown for a second year in a row, the Sierra Pacific Division will again hold the No. 1 position for the 2014 National Collegiate Club Championship tournament at a site to be determined. It marks only the third time the Sierra Pacific will hold the No. 1 spot in a championship field as Fresno State University claimed the 2007 title in Oregon against Cal Poly to give their division the top slot in the 2008 field.
The Southeast Division will hold the No. 2 spot in the 2014 field thanks to the Lady Knights National Championship game berth. It will mark the second time a Southeast Division team will hold a seed in the Top Two as the University of Florida fell to Michigan State University 5-4 in the 2006 National Championship game at Northwestern University on May 7, 2006 to give the home of the league's Sunshine State contingent the runner-up slot in the 2007 tournament.
|No. 3 University of Central Florida
|No. 1 University of California-Davis
Megan Reese (2); Rebecca Cullinan; Elizabeth Mock; Chelsie Bryan;
UCF Goals: Kristin
Plitnik (2); Alison Mantel; Laura Zuluaga; Lauren
Saves: UC-Davis - Samantha Miglian (6) ; UCF - Taylor Reeves (12)
Exclusions: UC-Davis - 5 ; UCF - 7
Advantage Opportunities: UC-Davis - 3-for-7 ; UCF - 1-for-5
Sprints: UC-Davis - 2-for-4 (2nd, 4th) ; UCF - 2-for-4 (1st, 3rd)
Officials: Kameryn Denaro, Bruce Morehouse
University of California-Davis' Chelsie Bryan scores in the first quarter against University of Central Florida goalie Taylor Reeves
University of Central Florida's Emily Tillman defends against the University of California-Davis' Tyler Brown
2013 National Collegiate Club Champions: University of California-Davis
2013 National Collegiate Club Championship Second Place: University of Central Florida
2013 National Collegiate
Club Championship Third Place: California Polytechnic State