UC Irvine

Today, 7 p.m
Spieker Aquatics Center
No TV

Transforming role-play into reality, the UCLA women’s water polo players will put away their practice suits and put on their game suits to face off UC Irvine today.

For the past week, UCLA has been practicing numerous counter attacks that will likely aid the team as it faces off a defensive-minded UCI team.

“UCI is a very good defensive team. They are very together, a strong team. We had a pretty good win against Cal (Lutheran) but the nature of the season is that each game becomes more and more important,” said coach Brandon Brooks.

The team said tonight’s game will set the tone for the UC Irvine Invitational, which takes place next weekend.

With each game, especially with a solid Irvine team, UCLA will be able to enhance its offensive performance in inventive ways, as the team is continuously practicing its 6-on-5 and man down scenarios in the 30-second shot clock time crunch.

Brooks said that they have to practice every aspect of the game but that they will focus their attention on their opposition’s defensive strategies. Through role-playing, the Bruins have been splitting the team in two during practice this week. Half of the team acted as the Anteaters’ defense and the other half practiced against them.

The team said that they are ready to kick off the weekend with an exciting back-and-forth battle.

Coming off an assertive 18-3 victory against Cal Lutheran last week, UCLA acknowledged that it is going up against an adept defensive team.

“It’s good to have a couple of tough games before a big tournament,” said freshman defender Alys Williams. “UCI is not much of a rivalry but they are a great team. We respect them as opponents and we hope to beat them. I can bring in good eyes and look at the open players and can make the passes.”

On the offensive front, the team said that they will need to focus more on finding open players and escaping the Anteaters’ defensive traps.

Williams said that the Bruins will need to keep their eyes open for the open players and make perfect passes in order to top Irvine’s defense, led by goalkeeper Jillian Yocum.

“I don’t think we are really relaxed but we are going to come out strong,” said freshman center India Forster.

The No. 3 Bruins said that they expect to face a more competitive game against the No. 6 Anteaters than in their most recent game against Cal Lutheran.

“(Tonight) should be an exciting game under the lights with two very solid teams with 100 percent (intensity),” Brooks said.

Email Gayed at mgayed@media.ucla.edu