Michigan topples No. 7 UC Irvine behind O’Reilly, Morrant


8-ranked Michigan took the lead early and held on late to knock out No. 7 UC Irvine 7-6.
» Maddie O’Reilly scored the decisive goal for the Wolverines, one of two of the day. She finished with four points thanks to two assists.
» Ava Morrant added three points, scoring two goals and adding an assist.

Site: Tempe, Arizona (Mona Plummer Aquatic Center)
Event: Arizona State Cross Conference Challenge (Day 2 of 3)
Goal: #8 Michigan 7, #7 UC Irvine 6
Recordings: UM (1-1), UCI (2-1)
Next UM event: Sunday, Jan. 23 – at #4 ASU Cross Conference Challenge – Day 3 (Tempe, Arizona, 8:30 a.m. MST)

TEMPE, Arizona. — The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan water polo team took an early lead and never looked back on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 22), beating No. 7 UC Irvine 7 -6 for his first victory of the 2022 campaign at the Arizona State Cross Conference Challenge at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.

Fifth year Maddie O’Reilly scored the second of his two goals in the dying moments of the game, finding the back of the net with 1:39 to get an assist from the senior captain Erin Neustrom to put the Wolverines up two goals. UC Irvine scored with just 25 seconds remaining to bring the score to within one, but the final horn sounded to end the contest.

Wolverines and Anteaters started the game in a stalemate, scoreless until the last minute of the first quarter. Junior Sophie Tovani put Michigan on the board with its first goal of the season with just eight seconds left in the first stanza.

O’Reilly scored his first goal of the day with a second-half count to give UM a 2-0 lead, but UCI fought back with their first goal just 30 seconds later. Senior Kayla Baron cut the lead to two after beating the Fourmilier goaltender for her third goal of the season. UC Irvine finished the half with two straight goals to send the teams to halftime tied at 3.

Senior Ava Morrant had a fantastic second half for the Wolverines, finding the back of the net midway through the third quarter, thanks to a feed from O’Reilly, to put UM back on top 4-3. After the Anteaters tied the score at 4, Morrant put Michigan ahead, 5-4, with its second score of the quarter.

Michigan extended their lead by one score in the fourth quarter, but UC Irvine tied the score at 5 with five minutes left in the game. It set the stage for Neustrom and O’Reilly, as the two connected for the first time in the quarter with 3:14 to play, as Neustrom scored his first goal of the season with an assist from ‘O’Reilly. The duo reversed roles for Michigan’s final goal, with O’Reilly finding the back of the net in what ended up being the game-clinching goal.

The tandem of guardians of Sophie Jackson and Alex Brown split the game in net for the Wolverines, with Jackson picking up the win and making three saves. Brown also played well for UM, stopping six anteater shots while recording a steal.

The Wolverines wrap up their trip to the ASU Cross Conference Challenge Sunday, Jan. 23, with a pair of games, first facing No. 4 Arizona State at 8:30 a.m. MST and ending with Fresno State no. ° 10 at 1:30 p.m. MST.


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