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UCLA Finishes in 3rd at WCLA National Tournament

Bookmark and Share Printer Friendly May. 15, 2014

After winning their first WWLL Championship since 2003, the 5th seeded Bruins were ready to face national competition May 7-10 in Virginia Beach, VA.  First up for the Bruins was 12th seeded Virginia Tech, who received an at-large bid out of the MAWLL.  The first half was a back and forth affair, as neither team was able to open up more than a two goal lead.  At the half, the Bruins held a narrow 8-7 lead over the Hokies.  But the Bruins quickly stretched their lead to four goals, scoring 3 consecutive times to begin the second half.  The Bruin defense, anchored by senior goalkeeper Martine Ehrlich, tightened up to only allowing 3 goals in the second half. The Bruin attackers continued to pressure the Hokie defense, scoring 7 goals led by midfielders Gretchen Kiep and Sam Fletcher, with 3 goals each. Kiep finished the game with a team high 4 points (3 G, 1 A). Junior captain Molly Tracy paced the Bruins with her consistent play in the midfield, contributing 4 draw controls and 4 ground balls.

On day 2, UCLA was pitted against #4 Georgia in the quarterfinals for a chance to advance to the final four.  The Bruins dominated the first half, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first ten minutes of the contest.  By halftime, the lead was 7-3, but the Bruins knew that no lead was safe.  The Bulldogs rallied back, knotting the game at 8 with 7:46 remaining, as the Bruin attack had a difficult time maintaining possession and converting on shots.  Winning the draw control has been one of UCLA's strengths all season and it showed when it mattered most, as the Bruins won the last three crucial draw controls.  With additional possessions came opportunities to take the lead for good.  Freshman Annie Zwaschka scored the game winning goal with 4:49 left off of a feed from Gretchen Kiep.  The Bruins won the ensuing draw control and maintained possession for the remainder of the game and denied the Bulldogs the opportunity to tie the score again.  UCLA was led offensively by the efforts of Kristin Alexander (3 G) and Kiep (1 G, 2 A).  Fletcher continued to be a strong presence in the midfield with 3 draw controls and 3 ground balls.  Ehrlich again had a solid effort in cage with 10 saves on the day, denying several Bulldog free position attempts.  

The Bruins faced #1 seed University of Pittsburgh in the national semifinal game the following day.  Despite being unable to convert on numerous opportunities to score in the first half after shooting 25%, the Bruins only trailed Pitt 5-4 at the half.  For the first time all year, UCLA was unable to control the draw consistently, winning just 3 of 10 draws in the first half.  Ehrlich had a stellar first half in the cage, coming up with 7 saves, 3 off of free positions, to keep the Bruins in the game.  However, the Panthers came out of halftime rallying for 5 straight goals to ultimately put the game out of reach.  Turnovers and poor shooting plagued the Bruins, as they fell 11-7 to Pitt, the eventual national champions.

Despite being denied the opportunity to win the national championship, UCLA found itself in another tight game fighting for 3rd place against #3 Ohio State.  Unlike the defensive games played the previous two days, the Bruins entered into a offensive showdown with the Buckeyes.  Trailing 5-1 just ten minutes into the game, the Bruins fought back to take a slight 11-10 advantage into halftime.  But the Buckeyes responded to take a 16-13 lead, as UCLA was held scoreless for 12 minutes.  High pressure defense and relentless hustle allowed the Bruins to slowly chip away at the lead and eventually tie the score at 16 with just 1:10 left in the game.  Ehrlich came up with a game-saving stop, running in from out of the crease to deny a Buckeye shot on the empty cage. Freshman Cambrey Knapp picked up a critical groundball and transitioned the ball into the attacking end for the Bruins.  Kiep scored the game winning goal, her 9th of the contest, with just 12 seconds remaining to secure the win and third place finish.  Kiep capped off a strong week of play with 12 points (9 G, 3 A) to lead the Bruins.  Draw controls were once again central to the Bruins' success, as they won 9 of 11 draws in the second half, including the last 8 in a row.  Fletcher dominated at the draw circle winning 8 draw controls to go along with 4 ground balls.  

The following players were recognized for their individual achievements throughout the season and during the National Championship Tournament:

WCLA Division 1 All-American, First Team

Gretchen Kiep, Midfield

Molly Tracy, Defense

WCLA Division 1 All-Tournament Team 

Martine Ehrlich, Goalie

Sam Fletcher, Midfield

Gretchen Kiep, Midfield


UCLA finishes their season with an overall 18-3 record and a 3rd place finish at the National Championship, where they went 3-1.  As a league, all three qualifying teams from the WWLL, finished in the top 8, with Santa Clara taking 6th and UCSB finishing 7th.  

Congrats to the Bruins on a fantastic season in 2014!  Be sure to check out our new website for the most up to date news.


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