STOCKTON, Calif. — The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan water polo team faced a hostile crowd and No. 7 University of the Pacific at the Chris Kjeldsen Pool Complex and came away with a hard-fought 8-7 victory for its seventh straight win.
Junior goalkeeper Heidi Ritner came up big for the Wolverines with 11 saves and two steals, including four saves in a critical third quarter.
The Wolverines trailed, 5-4, at halftime and it was Ritner who time after time made big stops to help Michigan outscore the Tigers 3-0 in the third quarter. Junior Maddy Steere tied the game with a deep shot as the shot clock was winding down, then senior Kim Johnson and freshman Abby Andrews followed with goals to help the Wolverines take a 7-5 lead.
Senior Julia Sellers scored on a five-meter penalty drawn by Steere in the fourth quarter to give U-M all the insurance it needed. Pacific scored twice and had an opportunity to tie the game in the final minute but the shot was off target. Michigan came up with the ball and head coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi called timeout with 30 seconds remaining. The Wolverines then ran out the clock to earn the win.
Michigan started the scoring with a counter-attack goal by Sellers 1:17 in to the contest. With the score tied at one-all, U-M got a big stop on a five-on-six with a field block and then took advantage with a great feed by Kathy Rogers to Steere inside for a goal. Pacific answered with a six-on-five goal with 12 seconds left to tie the score at two-all after eight minutes.
Sophomore Maddy Johnston gave U-M the 3-2 lead at the 5:00 mark in the second quarter with an inside goal. After the Tigers tied the score at 3, Johnson was being pressured at mid-pool, did a spin move and drove all the way in to two meters before behind fouled for a penalty. Steere converted for her second of the game, but Pacific was able to score twice in the final 3:05 to take a 5-4 halftime lead.
Steere led the team with three goals and one assist to go with two field blocks. Sellers added two goals and both Johnston and Andrews tallied one goal and one assist each. The defense had six field blocks to aid Ritner’s 11 saves.
Michigan improved to 14-7 on the season with its seventh straight win.
Release courtesy University of Michigan Athletics Communications