The UCLA women’s water polo team’s focus on communication and coordination this past week paid off as the Bruins finished in the third-place spot in this weekend’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
Ending the weekend with two wins and a loss, UCLA also likely secured an at-large bid for the NCAA championship in less than two weeks.
The Bruins’ first MPSF game against the California Golden Bears on Friday had an uneasy start, with UCLA scoring no points in the first quarter compared to Cal’s two goals. Then, capitalizing on Cal’s small mistakes and utilizing a few 6-on-5 power play opportunities, the Bruins were able to regain the lead and hold the Golden Bears scoreless for the final 19 minutes of the game to secure a win.
On Saturday, UCLA took on Stanford once again, ending the game with an 11-7 loss – a much stronger performance than the team’s last game against Stanford, which ended in an 8-1 loss.
“We had a lot of shots go up (in the game against Stanford),” said freshman attacker Rachel Fattal. “Obviously we didn’t win that one, but we didn’t play that (badly). … Playing them before, we knew more about them and what they were going to do.”
Additionally, junior utility Becca Dorst scored at the end of the first quarter against Stanford, having returned from an injury that has kept her out for most of the season.
Knowing it needed a win to end the MPSF tournament, the UCLA women defeated Arizona State 10-7 on Sunday. Most notable was the Bruins’ strong defense, which only allowed the Sun Devils to score on two of their 15 power play opportunities in the game. UCLA, on the other hand, scored on four of its eight 6-on-5 power play opportunities.
With the victory, UCLA awaits its likely NCAA bid, to be announced today. The players, expectedly, are eager to compete against the nation’s best in Boston next weekend.
“Every time you play a team you learn more about them,” Fattal said. “Now we know more about each team, and I think we’re going to play twice as hard going into NCAAs so that we’re ready for any team no matter what.”