After beating the UC Irvine Anteaters at Spieker Aquatics Center last week, the Bruins (13-1) will travel to Irvine this weekend, where they will try to repeat last year’s victory at the UC Irvine Invitational.
The tournament features 16 ranked teams, including the top nine teams in the latest Collegiate Water Polo Association poll, which had UCLA at No. 3.
For senior attacker Gisselle Naranjo, every match the Bruins play is a roller coaster of emotions because every game is a step closer to her departure from the team after graduation.
“It’s bittersweet, but mostly sad because I’m going to miss the team, the girls, the whole experience and the journey,” Naranjo said.
“I just hope that at the end we make it all count and (we all) leave with a national championship.”
This weekend will be a good taste of the competition the Bruins will face as they strive for a national title. The recent win over frequent national contender UCI gave the young Bruin squad much-needed experience.
Coach Brandon Brooks highlighted the positives of the encounter against the Anteaters. “Each time that we are getting up for a game because we are a young team we need all the experience we can get. In that sense every step forward is good for (the team),” Brooks said.
For freshman attacker Rachel Fattal, the match against UCI was good preparation for this weekend’s invitational as well.
“I think that playing Irvine here was a really good game for us to get momentum building and I think we are just going to keep on building from that momentum,” Fattal said.
“The win was a good win, it could have been better, but it was a win. We are going to be working harder for this weekend.”
Brooks said that he believes this effort, combined with good execution of the plays the team has been practicing, will allow the Bruins to repeat their performance from last year.
“I expect us to play with full effort and expect us to execute the things that we work on in practice and nothing more than that,” Brooks said.