Wednesday, April 24

UCLA women’s water polo to face top teams at Stanford Invitational

Megan Burmeister and the Bruins will play in the Stanford Invitational.

Megan Burmeister and the Bruins will play in the Stanford Invitational. Amy Le / Daily Bruin

The preseason jitters have come and gone, as the No. 5 UCLA women’s water polo team opened its 2010 season two weekends ago at the Michigan Invitational.

UCLA was not entirely successful, winning three games but suffering its first loss of the season to No. 7 San Diego State in overtime, 7-6.

“I think we should’ve done much better in that game,” new coach Brandon Brooks said. “It showed us that we have a lot of little things to work on, and a lot of growth is needed on our team.”

Despite the loss, Brooks acknowledged that the team can take some positives away from the trip.

“I thought our centers did a really good job, and our defenders fought really hard,” he said. “But I think we have a long way to go as a team to become a real Bruin squad.”

While the Bruins (3-1) look to steer their season in a winning direction, the road ahead will be tough, as they head north for this weekend’s Stanford Invitational. They will take on No. 4 California (5-0) before playing No. 3 Hawai’i (4-0) and No. 9 Arizona State (3-0).

The Bruins have been preparing for the strong competition for the past two weeks by focusing on their defense, just as they had set out to do at the beginning of the season.

“There is that cliche that offense wins games and defense wins championships, and that’s definitely something we really take to heart,” junior defender Megan Burmeister said. “I feel that a good defense can totally carry the momentum into a really good offense.”

In addition, Brooks believes that another key element to winning is to be as competitive as possible.

“We should understand that we have a young team, and we have to compete and fight for everything that we’re going to get,” she said. “Everything matters in our game, and the small things matter the most. We need our team to step up and raise the level of competition.”

In their first game of the tournament on Saturday, the Bruins will get their chance to display their competitiveness against Cal, a familiar Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponent.

“They’re a really physical team, and I think we’re all excited to play them,” Burmeister said. “It’s going to be a good measuring point for us, to see where we are this far in the season.”

With three consecutive games against highly ranked teams, the Bruins are aware that the competition will be stiff but will look to start the weekend off on a good note.

“Cal has been building for the last three years, and they have a strong team this year,” Brooks said. “They have a bunch of seniors, and I think they’re really hungry. I think it’s going to be a battle.”

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