Monday, December 9

Women’s water polo splits weekend games against Stanford, San Jose State

UCLA’s women’s water polo finished its home season over the weekend with a split of two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation games at Spieker Aquatics Center. The No. 4 Bruins (15-6, 3-2 MPSF) dropped an 11-6 decision to No. 2 Stanford (18-1, 4-1) Saturday, but came back Sunday and cruised to a 12-5 victory over No. 6 San Jose State (14-10, 2-3).

Coming into Saturday, UCLA was looking to avenge a loss to the Cardinal last month at the UCI Invitational, where Stanford won 10-4 in a non-MPSF match. Things got off to a quick start for the Bruins when junior defender Megan Burmeister and junior attacker Priscilla Orozco put in back-to-back goals early in the first quarter to give UCLA a 2-1 lead. It would be the only lead UCLA would see all day though, as Stanford responded with three straight goals to end the first quarter, and comfortably held a multiple-goal lead for the rest of the game for their sixth straight win.

“We actually had some really good momentum … and we lost it really quickly at the beginning,” coach Brandon Brooks said. “We did go up 2-1, and then we kind of fell apart a little bit.”

Not deterred by their performance a day earlier, UCLA flipped the script on Sunday against San Jose State in their final home game of the year, one that was not a traditional Senior Day for the young Bruin team that lacks a senior.

Sophomore utility KK Clark notched a hat trick, while four other Bruins registered two goals apiece. The Bruins comfortably held a lead thanks to their steady defense and sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Dement, who collected eight saves and earned a quarter’s worth of rest at the end of the game.

“I think we did a better job defensively (against SJSU), controlling the game and giving them looks that we wanted them to have,” Brooks said. “I thought that they played a really tough game yesterday (a 12-11 loss at LMU), and it may have been hard for them to get up again two days in a row.”

Orozco, who led the team over the weekend with four goals over the two games, said that while the team has some work to do, they can take a lot away from their second loss to Stanford this year.

“(Stanford has) big physical girls that our younger girls have to compete against, so just the experience that our young girls get is key for our team,” she said.

UCLA has three away games left in the regular season, including a game at No. 1 USC, before coming home to host the MPSF tournament. For Brooks, the team has progressed well up to this point, but still has a lot of work to do.

“We’ll get to play (USC) again. It’s going to be another really good test for us just like Stanford was (Saturday), to see how much we can grow,” Brooks said.

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