TEMPE, Ariz. — The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan women’s water polo team dropped a pair of games by falling short against No. 1 the University of Southern California (USC), 13-7, and No. 4/host Arizona State University, 7-4, on the final day of the Arizona State Invitational at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.
Facing the top-ranked Trojans, senior Maddie O’Reilly opened the scoring with a five-meter penalty shot, but USC quickly countered, scoring five consecutive goals to take a 5-1 lead after the end of the first quarter.
The Wolverines got back into the mix with an energetic second quarter. A pair of freshmen provided the scoring punch, as Elise Walker came off the bench to score twice, while Kata Utassy bagged a goal herself via a five-meter penalty. Sophomore Alex Brown, who was in net for this one, made a couple of critical saves, including a denial of USC’s Denise Mammolito off a rebound from a missed five-meter penalty. The Trojans scored with one second left before halftime and went into the break up, 7-4.
USC had several opportunities to increase its lead through the early part of the third quarter, but Brown kept Michigan in it, making four saves. The Trojans broke through with three straight goals to make it 10-4, but the Wolverines stopped the run with goals from Utassy and O’Reilly on back-to-back possessions. USC led, 10-6, heading into the fourth quarter.
Utassy secured her hat trick with a power-play goal with 2:06 remaining, but the Trojans kept Michigan at bay, securing the win.
The Trojans outshot the Wolverines, 37-20. Michigan was whistled for 12 exclusions, but held USC to just a one-for-11 clip with the man-advantage. Brown made nine saves in the contest.
Like it did in the morning, Michigan went up early through junior Ava Morrant, who scored a power-play goal off a nice feed from O’Reilly against Arizona State. The Sun Devils jumped back ahead, scoring three straight goals, including two on the power play, to lead, 3-1, heading into the second quarter.
Graduate student Heidi Ritner got the start in the cage and made a huge stop early in the quarter on a five-meter penalty to keep it a two-goal game. She also provided a down-pool pass to Emily Ritner, who scored on a breakaway. Morrant scored again with 2:31 left to trim the lead to one. The Wolverines trailed, 4-3, at halftime.
Arizona State outscored Michigan, 3-0, in the third quarter. The Wolverines came up empty on offense but had a few high-quality looks, including two shots that hit the post and one from junior Erin Neustrom that found the back of the cage before being nullified by an offensive foul.
The Wolverines tried to claw their way back in the game, but just could not solve Arizona State netminder Chelsea Karimazondo, who made 12 saves. Neustrom added a consolation goal with 10 second left to cap the scoring.
Ritner made seven saves and had four steals in goal.
Release courtesy University of Michigan Athletics Communications