Saturday was all about UCLA’s Jahmea Bent. The senior goalkeeper led her hometown Bruins to a spot in the NCAA Championship game with a 9-7 win over No. 2 Stanford (13-6, 8-4 MPSF) at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center.
The Cardinal won two of three previous meetings with the No. 3 Bruins (13-4, 9-3 MPSF) this season, including a narrow 12-11 victory on March 27. Bent played all 32 minutes in that contest and only saved five shots while allowing the Cardinal to score 12.
Bent’s showing in March was a far cry from her performance on Saturday. She logged 18 saves on Saturday and held the Cardinal to only seven goals. Her effort was supplemented by an offense that led the Bruins to a 4-1 score in the first quarter.
The Cardinal’s two-meter defenders pulled them back in the contest in the second quarter. Two goals from junior Chloe Harbilas and another from freshman Skyler Jones helped Stanford tie the match heading into halftime.
Freshman driver Jewel Roemer found the back of the cage twice in the third quarter to keep the Cardinal tied through most of the third, but a score from UCLA sophomore Abbi Hill put the Bruins in the lead 7-6.
In the season’s final eight minutes the Cardinal failed to build the momentum for a comeback. Back-to-back UCLA goals from Lexi Liebowitz and Brooke Maxson were only answered when senior driver Sarah Klass landed a penalty shot with five minutes remaining. Klass’ goal was the final score for the Cardinal as turnovers on both sides ran out the rest of the semifinal match.
Sunday’s championship match will be a crosstown rivalry battle as UCLA faces the No. 1 USC Trojans (21-1, 11-1 MPSF). The Bruins ended USC’s hope for a perfect season with a 13-6 victory at Spieker Aquatics Center on April 25, the final game of the regular season. With Bent tending the goal, they’ll look to spoil the Trojans’ chances at a title altogether.