If UCLA women’s water polo learned anything from Friday’s 11-6 loss to USC, it’s that work needs to be done and that, luckily, the team has an appetite for improvement.
Several small errors led to the loss to the Trojans in the regular season finale.
“We have to move on. We have to focus on the task ahead,” said coach Brandon Brooks.
The team plans on tailoring this week to the goal of doing well in the start of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. The Bruins, who will play the California Golden Bears in Berkeley this weekend in the first round of the tournament, plan on using the week to learn the strategies of Cal’s team.
Even more so, players said they will have to address the loss and learn from it if they hope to succeed in the MPSF Tournament.
“Forgetting (the USC) game, learning the things, taking the things we learned from (that) game and going forward is the best we can do,” said redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sami Hill.
Hill noted that a key area for improvement is working together. She said lapses in defense, a significant factor in the loss to USC, occur when the team isn’t working together well.
Hill wasn’t the only one that felt this way. Senior defender Natasha Schulman also said that she felt the team needs to focus on moving as a unit this week if it hopes to do well in games against Cal and other top-ranked schools, who, like USC, can capitalize on small mistakes in unity during the execution of plays.
“If one person doesn’t get in their spot it throws the other person off,” Schulman said. “I think it didn’t happen a lot (against USC), but it happened and they capitalized. And it’s one of those times it could happen three or four times, but if (the other team capitalizes), those are three or four points.”
Ultimately, the players refuse to be fazed by last week’s performance, and like the other teams, they are capitalizing – not on performance mistakes, but rather on an appetite to be better, an appetite that the loss to USC and a chance to play in the NCAA tournament have given them.
“(Friday’s loss) just makes us more hungry,” Hill said.
“Of course we’re all sad, we never want to feel like this again, so I think that really motivates us to work even harder this week, forget about how we feel now, and make sure that we are ready to play Cal.”