Arizona stuns No. 1 UCLA to reach semis at NCAA Women's Championship

Beth Ann Nichols/Golfweek

Arizona stuns No. 1 UCLA to reach semis at NCAA Women's Championship

Women

Arizona stuns No. 1 UCLA to reach semis at NCAA Women's Championship

STILLWATER, Okla. – The streak of the No. 1 seed not winning the NCAA Women’s Championship continues with top-seeded UCLA losing to Pac-12 conference opponent Arizona in the opening round of match play. The Wildcats won 3-2 with victories from Gigi Stoll, Haley Moore and Bianca Pagdanganan.

The key match in Arizona’s victory may have been the first one. That put Stoll, a junior for the Wildcats and ranked No. 109, up against UCLA junior Lilia Vu. Ranked No. 2 in the country, Vu is a first team All-American and has won five times this year including the Pac-12 Conference Championship (tied for first in regulation) in April.

Stoll would trail early, but only by a small margin on the front nine before taking a lead on the back nine to win, 2 up.

“They have played a lot together and with her not playing so great yesterday and giving her a chance to kill it today, she did just that,” said Arizona head coach Laura Ianello. “We had a good feeling about her even though she kind of struggled this week.”

That feeling was correct and set the stage for the Wildcats to pull off the upset.

Another Arizona point in Match No. 3 from Moore and two wins from UCLA’s Bethany Wu and Mariel Galdiano set the stage for the final match on the final hole.

With the team scored tied 2-2, Pagdanganan would reach the par-5 18th green in two to set up a two-putt birdie while Patty Tavatanakit would lip-out her birdie attempt, sending Arizona to the semifinals to face off against another conference opponent in Stanford.

“I am so glad I had Bianca playing in the last spot against Patty. I knew she was the one that could pull it through and she did,” Ianello said.

UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth was upset, but not as much for herself.

“I feel bad for the girls. For me it’s a bummer and I feel like well there’s next time, but for the girls you don’t want to get knocked out in the first round. But, you know it can happen that’s just the way it is out here in this format,” said Forsyth. “They were really excited to play match play, they were pumped up. But, I can’t blame it on anything. Our player of the year did not win her match. Our freshman of the year did not win her match. We just didn’t get it done.”

For UCLA, it is a tough defeat. The Bruins had only lost to seven teams all season long in 11 tournaments.

“They were solid all year. We did everything right and well. We won a lot of tournaments, we won a conference championship,” said Forsyth. “They are really good. We have a player of the year and a freshman of the year.”

The Bruins’ only other appearance in match play came in 2016 where they lost in the semifinals. They are now 1-2 all time in the NCAA championship match play format.

“I don’t know what to say. You play well in stroke play and match play is just a different game,” said Forsyth.

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