On a dreary and rainy Saturday afternoon while most students were huddled indoors, the UCLA women’s water polo team was full of energy as it hosted Arizona State in a conference game.
Despite the less-than-enjoyable weather and the cold wet seats, Spieker Aquatics Center drew a sizable crowd of parents and fans as No. 1 UCLA (15-1, 4-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) was able to rain on the Sun Devils’ parade by handing them their first conference loss of the season in an 8-6 victory.
Although victorious, the Bruins started the game a little slowly.
The Sun Devils took an early lead in the first quarter as the Bruins fell behind 1-2.
The Bruins’ only goal that quarter came off a penalty shot by senior utility KK Clark.
“Arizona played good defense,” said coach Brandon Brooks. “They forced us into some of the shots they wanted us to take in the beginning.
“We had some opportunities early on that we didn’t convert, but eventually, we broke though.”
This breakthrough came in the second quarter when Clark scored her second goal of the game on another penalty shot. Shortly after that, teammate and sophomore fellow utility Becca Dorst scored the Bruins’ third goal of the game.
“Because we were down in the first half, we knew we had to bring it out in the third quarter,” junior utility Emily Greenwood said. “We worked as a team, we passed a lot better, and our defense was really good.”
UCLA attributes part of the success of Saturday’s play to the improvement in its counterattack. The strong counterattack performance was clearly seen as the Bruins held the Sun Devils scoreless from the middle of the second quarter until the 3:42 mark of the fourth quarter.
“Our counterattack comes from our defense,” Clark said. “We played good defense. We got our spacing, and we’re able to read out the counterattacks which was a really good feeling, and that really built momentum going into the second half of the game.”
It may have been a slow start for the Bruins, but the team came out victorious with a solid defensive performance.
“I am very pleased with the win today,” Brooks said.
“We pride ourselves on defense, and we brought it today.”