The UCLA women’s water polo team was supposed to have an away game this weekend as they traveled down to San Diego to take on No. 9 San Diego State.
Sure, they played in a different venue and had to listen to a different playlist of warm-up music, but this was far from an away game for the Bruins.
Between the sea of blue and gold in the crowd and their fellow athletes, the UCLA softball team playing across the street, this game had the makings and ambience of any home game that would have taken place at Spieker.
The Bruins (8-1) used this vibe to their advantage as they beat the Aztecs (8-2) 9-4 in their first conference game of the season.
“We played well throughout the whole game,” head coach Brandon Brooks said. “It was a great win; San Diego State is a great team. It was a conference win and to come out and get a win like that on the road was excellent for us.”
San Diego State played a strong defensive game that tested UCLA early, but the Bruins responded well to the pressure.
“Emotions were definitely running high in this game,” senior attacker Sarah Orozco said. “It was difficult to make all the calls but that is a part of the game and you have to learn to work through it.”
Despite the intensity of the Aztec defense, the Bruins showed great strength early on by going into the half with a 6-2 lead. Senior utility KK Clark and sophomore utility Becca Dorst were the goal leaders as each scored two goals during the game.
“This was a great game for the team,” Dorst said, who scored the first goal quickly into the game with a backhanded shot. “We put a couple goals in early and that just set the tone and let everyone know that we were ready to play.”
This early lead played a huge role in setting a high intensity level that would last throughout the game. The team was able to take that energy and channel it as they took advantage of their six-on-five opportunities and capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes.
“The intensity in this game was definitely high, but we did a great job of sticking to our game plan of five-on-six defensive and were able to execute a lot of our six-on-five offensive as well,” Clark said.