Sanjose State 4
The Bruins are back on track.
The UCLA women’s water polo team bested San Jose State with a solid 9-4 performance, a much-needed recovery after back-to-back losses against the nation’s top two teams ““ Stanford and California.
While it took the Bruins a while to find their footing ““ they entered halftime at a 2-2 deadlock ““ the second half served as a reminder of why the Bruins should still be considered among the country’s elite.
Senior center Grace Reynolds snapped off two goals in the quarter, and her third goal helped the No. 4 Bruins (19-5, 2-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) go in front 7-3 halfway through the fourth quarter. UCLA outscored No. 8 SJSU (16-9, 2-3) 7-2 in the second half.
The consistent goal-scoring by Reynolds, which was conspicuously absent in last month’s losses to Cal and Stanford, will be essential if the Bruins hope to continue their comeback.
The experience of veteran players on defense was also crucial to this weekend’s success.
Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Dement, who played her first full game in several weeks, was able to keep calm under pressure and block a penalty shot from SJSU’s Timi Molnar to keep the Bruins at a 5-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Perhaps even more promising for UCLA, however, is the depth it showed on Saturday.
Junior utility player KK Clark and sophomore attacker Brooke Martin both contributed two goals this weekend, and the ability to score from multiple positions will be crucial against the shut-down defense they can expect in postseason play.
As the Bruins gear up for their run at the MPSF Championship, they will need to play entire games with the poise and intensity they demonstrated in the second half of this weekend’s game.
They will soon have a chance to test their abilities, as next week’s matchup against No. 3 USC promises to be one of the most challenging of the year.
Compiled by Liz Schneider, Bruin Sports contributor.