GRESHAM, Ore. -- Courtney Ashford (Sr., Salem, Ore.) and Beth Gordon (Fr., Walnut Creek, Calif.) tallied hat-tricks and Jessica Kragt (So., Portland, Ore.) made seven saves as No. 7 nationally ranked the University of Oregon upset No. 1 ranked the University of California-Davis 9-5 in the semfinals of the 2008 National Collegiate Club Championship hosted by Oregon at Mt. Hood Community College.
The win is historic for the University of Oregon and the Collegiate Water Polo Association as it marks only the second time in the history of the women's National Collegiate Club Championship that a host team will play for the title. In 2004, the Mustangs of California Polytechnic State University defeated Dartmouth College 7-4 for the championship in San Luis Obispo, California in the 2004 National Collegiate Club Championship.
The Ducks will now meet either No. 5 ranked the University of Arizona or No. 2 ranked California Polytechnic State University at 12:45 p.m. on May 4 for the national championship, while UC-Davis will face either the Wildcats or the Mustangs at 11:30 a.m. in the third place game.
Oregon never trailed in the game and jumped out to a 2-0 lead two minutes into the contest as Ashford scored on an exclusion at 5:51 and again at 4:59 at even strength. UC-Davis chopped into the lead courtesy an exclusion goal by Meredith Muecke (Jr., San Diego, Calif.) at 1:36, but the Ducks regained a two-goal lead with 47 seconds left in the period as Beth Gordon (Fr., Walnut Creek, Calif.) found the back of the cage with a blast.
The margin increased to 4-1 to open the second period as Gordon scored again at the 6:27 mark, but UC-Davis rallied back behind scores from Kelly Marshall (Jr., Alameda, Calif.) and Lisa Smith (Jr., San Anselmo, Calif.) at 5:29 and 4:12, respectively, to pull to within 4-3.
Oregon repelled the threat before halftime through the hand of Katie Peront (Fr., Beaverton, Ore.) who scored at 1:10 and 19 seconds to give the Ducks a 6-3 advantage at intermission.
The lead was too much for UC-Davis to overcome as they pulled to within 6-4 in the third period on a goal by Lucy Potter (So., Berkeley, Calif.) with 34 seconds left in the quarter, and moved to within 7-5 with 5:37 left in the fourth period, but could not crack the Ducks' defense for any more.
Ahead 7-5 in the fourth thanks to a goal by Ashford to open the frame at the 6:00 mark, Oregon closed out the game with back-to-back goals by Gordon and Lizzy Flower (So., Lafayette, Calif.) on exclusions with 4:45 and 1:39 left on the game clock for insurance.
For UC-Davis, Elyssa Thome (Jr., Pleasanton, Calif.) made 10 saves, while five players notched single scores.
UC-Davis Goals -- Kristina Forest; Meredith Muecke; Lisa Smith; Lucy Potter; Kelly Marshall
Oregon Goals -- Courtney Ashford (3); Beth Gordon (3); Katie Peront (2); Lizzy Flower;
UC-Davis Assists -- Robbie Sims
Oregon Assists -- Lizzy Flower; Karen Peront
UC-Davis Steals -- Kristina Forest (2); Robbie Sims; Kelly Marshall
Oregon Steals -- Courtney Ashford; Karen Peront; Beth Gordon
Saves: UC-Davis - Elyssa Thome (10) ; Oregon - Jessica Kragt (7)
Ejections: UC-Davis - 9 ; Oregon - 8
Shots: UC-Davis - 15 ; Oregon - 24
Sprints: UC-Davis - 4 ; Oregon - 0
Jessica Kragt made seven saves to help Oregon past UC-Davis