Tuesday, September 17

UCLA women’s water polo to play Loyola Marymount

In recent years, the goal for UCLA’s women’s water polo team has been simple: win the National Championship. But with just three regular season games left this year, the goal might be much simpler: just make the NCAA tournament.

The No. 4 Bruins (15-6, 3-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) begin the home stretch of their regular season schedule today with a nonconference matchup against perennial Western Water Polo Association power Loyola Marymount. The No. 7 Lions (19-2, 5-0 WWPA) currently sit atop the WWPA standings and are winners of 14 straight, including two games over MPSF opponents.

Saturday, the team will travel to San Diego to face off against No. 14 SDSU (18-11, 0-5 MPSF) at the Aztec Aquaplex, home of the 2010 NCAA Water Polo Championship, in what will be the second meeting between the Aztecs and the Bruins this year. SDSU handed UCLA its first loss of the year back on Jan. 23 at the Michigan Invitational in a 7-6 game decided in overtime.

In order to get back to the Aztec Aquaplex in May, the Bruins have some work to do. They are currently tied for fourth in the MPSF standings with Hawaii (15-6, 3-2), who holds the tie-breaker over UCLA by virtue of its 9-8 win in six overtimes on March 6. While only the winner of MPSF tournament is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament, the three at-large bids that typically go to the second-, third-, and fourth-best MPSF schools are up for grabs. If the tournament started today, UCLA might be on the outside looking in, a severe disappointment for a team looking for its seventh consecutive national title.

A sweep of this weekend’s games would certainly help the team in positioning for the MPSF tournament in three weeks. Leading the way for the Bruins are junior attacker Priscilla Orozco and junior center Grace Reynolds. Orozco tallied four goals total in UCLA’s final homestand two weeks ago against Stanford and San Jose State and leads the team with 29 on the year, while Reynolds, the transfer from Cal, has notched 27 goals. Sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Dement will also look to keep up her outstanding play in the cage for the Bruins.

Compiled by Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports contributor.

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