The weekend did not quite live up to the Bruins’ expectations. Going into games against No. 2 Cal and No. 7 UC Irvine, the UCLA men’s water polo team hoped to take both.
Before Friday’s game, cheers from devout Cal fans who made the trip to Spieker Aquatics Center were easily drowned out by the Bruins’ eight-clap.
Unfortunately for those same fans, the Bruins were unable to do the same to the Bears’ offense.
The Bruins lost to Cal for the second weekend straight, finishing Friday’s game with a score of 8-5.
“This one’s going to hurt. Hopefully it hits home for the guys,” coach Adam Wright said. “I know it does for me.”
Junior utility Josh Samuels powered a goal from beyond half pool into the net in the last second of the first half to tie the game. The excitement of the goal, however, did not propel the Bruins ““ they ended up scoring only two goals in the second half, while the Golden Bears scored five.
“I just turned around and shot it, and I was excited that it went in. Then I was really excited when I realized I’d tied it up,” Samuels said. “I thought it would give us some momentum going into the second half.”
When asked whether it was his team’s offense or the Golden Bears’ defense that made the difference in the game, Wright was frank.
“It was all us. Rushing things, not really playing for each other … we were our own worst enemy tonight.”
The scoring was deadlocked at 3-3 until the third quarter, when Cal netted four straight goals.
According to Wright, the part of the Bruins’ game that suffered the most on Friday was their 6-5 offense, where they were only 2 for 11.
“We were confident going into the game that we had a good chance,” redshirt senior attacker and team captain Cullen Hennessy said. “We just didn’t execute.”
According to both Hennessy and Samuels, the team knew what they needed to do to beat Cal, but simply failed to follow through.
“I think we made a lot of poor mistakes, and almost all of them were mistakes we talked about before the game. We failed to stick to our game plan,” Samuels said.
UCLA had one day’s rest between matches to prepare to face Irvine. They spent Saturday watching game film and loosening up, hoping Sunday would give them a better result.
The Bruins beat the Anteaters 18-6 in Irvine.
It was even-paced through the first quarter, but UCLA ran away with it when they outscored Irvine 5-1 in the second quarter with four consecutive goals. The Bruins scored four more goals in each of the last two quarters.
On Friday, only Samuels managed to net more than one goal. On Sunday, 10 players scored, five of them contributing multiple times.
“When everybody gets involved, it means we’re playing good water polo,” Hennessy said after Sunday’s game. “On Friday, nobody stepped up. We needed to play as more of a team.”