Behind the Score:
Goals scored by the Bruins in their three regular season matches
Goals allowed by UCLA in those same matches
Goals scored by Bruin true freshmen
This weekend, the pool at Spieker showed off a lot of depth ““ and not just the 16-foot markers on its edge.
UCLA men’s water polo hosted the UCLA Invitational this weekend, bringing teams from all over Southern California to Westwood. With some key Bruins sitting on the sidelines, coach Adam Wright had to pull from the depths of his ranks, giving young players a chance to shine in the pool.
The Bruins hold claim to a 3-0 record after two days of competition, with three exhibition games and three regular season games in which they beat Pomona-Pitzer, Chapman, and Cal Baptist.
Two freshmen, attacker Joey Fuentes and utility Danny McClintick, were noted by Wright as the young standouts of the weekend.
“I hope it does show that some of the people we lean on for leadership, they have to realize the group is stronger than one individual,” Wright said. “McClintick, a true freshman, was excellent, Fuentes was excellent … there was a lot of good things this weekend.”
McClintick netted goals in every regular season game this weekend, showing his strength early as a valuable member of the squad.
“It’s obviously an amazing experience, and it’s really surreal … to come here and contribute right away is amazing. It’s definitely the guys who’ve been here who made the transition so easy,” McClintick said.
The Bruins suffered some losses bigger than players sitting out the weekend. Junior utility Cristiano Mirarchi is out for the season due to shoulder surgery.
A clutch scorer for the blue and gold last season, he sat in the stands with a sling on his right arm.
“It would have been nice to take care of this in the winter … instead of having one of our best players out for the year, but somebody else is going to have to step up,” Wright said.
In addition to having several key players sitting out the weekend, a couple of veterans got the chance to play new positions.
Due to injuries to their regular centers, redshirt juniors Chris Wendt and Paul Pickell were asked to step in for them at the two meter position.
“Everyone’s willing to step up and help the team any way they can, that was the way I could do it, playing a position I don’t normally play,” said Wendt. “It was fun getting in there to mess around a little.”
Their exhibitions were against three Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponents ““ Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara, and USC ““ and put the Bruins’ weaknesses on display. Both offensive and defensive struggles came about throughout those games, inhibiting the blue and gold from playing their best.
“We had some rough games, mostly the exhibitions, they were not our best games,” McClintick said. “We have a long way to go but no question the coaches can get us there and no question the guys are ready to do it.”
While the Bruins weren’t at the top of their game, they learned this weekend that when they’re lacking, they can still pull through.
“We were short a couple players … so it was a good test,” said Wendt.
“A good measuring stick to see where we need to go.”