This past weekend at the University of Michigan’s Canham Natatorium,
the same pool in which Michael Phelps trained for many of his Olympic gold medals, the UCLA women’s water polo team took home a gold of its own.
After posting a tournament-best 3-0 record at the round-robin style
Michigan Invitational, the No. 3 Bruins emerge confident and ready totake on the rest of their schedule.
“I think that it will help our confidence a lot … because we are a
young team and we are learning together,” senior attacker Sarah Orozco said. “If we were coming off some losses there would be a little bit of motivation going on but I think the wins definitely build some confidence.”
In their first Saturday game against Colorado State, the Bruins were
able to rely on the scoring ability of senior utility KK Clark and
sophomore utility Becca Dorst, who each scored three goals to lead
UCLA to a 9-4 victory.
Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Dement suffocated the Rams’ offense all afternoon, recording 10 saves and shutting out Colorado State in the third quarter.
“I think from a personal standpoint I can always play better defense,”
Clark said. “It’s really coming together for us so I just need to
allow all that to happen.”
As it turned out, Clark’s offense was more than enough for UCLA. She
totaled 10 goals over the weekend, four of which came in the team’s
Saturday evening game against No. 10 Indiana.
With help from Orozco and freshman attacker Emily Donohoe, who both
chipped in a pair of goals, as well as freshman goalkeeper Sarah
Wilkey, who looked more like a seasoned veteran than a player making
her collegiate debut, the Bruins were able to coast to their second
Saturday win 10-5.
“We have a very young team but we have a lot of potential,” Orozco
said. “I think we were able to come together really well and I think
personally that helped the way I was playing.”
Sunday brought UCLA its biggest test in No. 12 Michigan, who took
advantage of the Pacific Time Zone-dwelling Bruins with a 10:15 a.m.
local start time and fought early, only trailing UCLA 6-5 at halftime.
However, strong play down the stretch by Clark as well as sophomore
attacker Kelly Ronimus brought the Bruins their third consecutive
“In years past, we’ve always started the season 3-0 with the games upat Michigan,” Clark said. “But this year the way that we won, happened in a way that we really came together. It was a true team effort and we picked up some big momentum going into the next tournament.”