Men’s water polo
Santa Clara 9
They were bracing themselves.
Coming up the weekend, the Bruins had all their sights set on Stanford, the No. 1 team in the country. After two losses to No. 2 California in a row, they were anxious to win.
UCLA beat Stanford on the Cardinal’s home turf 7-6 on Saturday afternoon. The next day, they managed to follow up with a 12-9 road win over Santa Clara.
The Bruins took control of Saturday’s game early on, taking a 4-2 lead into halftime. The teams traded off scoring in the second half after Stanford managed to rally and tie the game.
In the final moments of the game ““ the last 37 seconds, to be precise ““ it seemed that Stanford might tie it up on a power play, but the Bruins were able to steal away the ball and run out the clock.
“It’s pretty awesome,” junior Josh Samuels said. “Beating Stanford is just huge for us as a team.”
Junior attacker Griffin White scored three goals for the Bruins against the Cardinal including one with minutes left in the game that snagged the win. He had missed from the same spot minutes before, but he was able to come back and bury the ball in the back of the goal.
“Whenever I miss a shot, I don’t let it get to me,” White said. “I just came back and put it in the back of the net.”
This was the second time in three weeks that the Bruins beat the No.1 team ““ two weekends ago they beat then top-ranked USC.
“We played to our potential, the way that we know we can,” White said.
After scoring seven goals to withstand the determination of Stanford, the Bruins showcased an even more impressive offensive effort on Sunday, scoring 12 goals by nine different players.
Several young players, who do not often get the chance to play in regular conference games, were able to make a difference in the game against Santa Clara. This contribution was appreciated by coach Adam Wright.
“They work really hard (and) train really hard at every practice,” Wright said. “They really stepped up.”
The difference maker in the game against Stanford was the team’s defense. In the past week, the team has stressed how much work it needs ““ and it seems like that extra focus has paid off.
“The defense was excellent. … When we didn’t convert, we still managed to stop them from scoring. It was big,” Wright said.
After losing two consecutive games to Cal in just as many weekends, a win against Stanford is an important moment for UCLA.
“To go on the road and win a one goal game, that was back and forth, it’s big,” Wright said. “It’s a great win against the No. 1 team.”