Going into the Stanford Invitational, the UCLA women’s water polo team was 3-0 and the Bruins were eager to test their skills against top competition.
This weekend provided ample opportunity for the team to test their skills against the best programs in the nation, as UCLA faced four teams ranked in the top 15.
The Bruins fought hard throughout the tournament but fatigue from the weekend set in and gaps in the offense contributed to a loss in the title match against Stanford.
“By the final game we were a little bit tired which is understandable for tournament play,” said coach Brandon Brooks.
“This game, though, brought to life some of the things we need to work; we need to do a better job of ball handling on the perimeter, shooting under pressure. We need to just be better and be able to put up more goals against teams like Stanford and Cal if we are going to be a contender,” he said.
In their first game Saturday against Hawaii, the Bruins relied on the scoring ability of senior utility KK Clark and sophomore attacker Kelly Ronimus, who each scored two goals in the 6-5 win.
“It was exciting to get the one of my first big tournaments of the season out of the way,” Ronimus said.
“It was a huge team win; we were able to see, even when we were down, how much we can fight and pull through to come away with the win,” she said.
The scoring duo of Ronimus and Clark would continue into the next game of the evening against California, posting three of the four goals in UCLA’s 4-3 victory against Cal.
“In the game against Cal the team had such an energy that helped keep everyone fired up,” Clark said.
The Bruins finished off their regular bracket play Sunday before making their way into the title match.
Their first matchup was a rematch from two weeks ago as they faced Michigan. The Wolverines had no chance in this rematch as the Bruins posted a 10-3 victory.
Senior goalie Caitlin Dement had a great defensive second half as they shut out the Wolverines in the second half of the game.
Sophomore utility Becca Dorst was the top scorer of this game, posting three goals.
“This game was a great game both offensively and defensively,” Dorst said.
“It was a great game to see our progress ““ the first time we beat them by only two goals, but this time we were able to just pull away and won by more.”
After crushing Michigan, the Bruins looked to face their biggest competition yet, top-ranked Stanford.
Although the Bruins were able to outscore the Cardinal 2-1 in the third quarter and close the gap in the score, it was not enough as Stanford pushed forward in the final quarter with three goals.
The game was a tough loss for UCLA but served as an effective lesson to show the team what they need to continue to work on.
“It’s important for the team to be happy with the progress we have made so far but not be content. How much we get better over the next couple of weeks will really determine our future,” Brooks said.