For the seventh year in a row, UCLA women’s water polo is off to a 6-0 start.
The No. 3 Bruins (6-0) added four more wins to their record this weekend as they went undefeated at the UCSB Winter Invitational.
The offense continued to pour in from freshman attacker Maddie Musselman, who scored 12 goals over the victories and led the team in scoring with 18.
Senior utility Mackenzie Barr, sophomore attacker Lizette Rozeboom, junior center Alexis Angermund, redshirt senior defender Alys Williams and redshirt senior attacker Rachel Fattal also posted games with three or more goals each – Fattal did so twice Saturday alone, while Angermund had four goals in the win over No. 10 Pacific.
“We’ve been pushing transitions a lot and getting some quick goals,” said junior utility Bronte Halligan. “When everyone loves to shoot no matter who you are in the water and score goals. … Everyone has the confidence in themselves and in their teammates. It’s really good to see that we’re getting numbers up on the scoreboard.”
But the weekend, like last, was defined by the Bruins’ defense.
UCLA allowed 16 goals over the four games, and has only let in 18 over the year – an average of three per game. According to sophomore goalie Carlee Kapana, the goal is to sink that number even lower.
“(Coach Brandon Brooks) really wants us to beat that record of 2.88 goals against average,” Kapana said. “I really want to break it too, but we’re on the right track to breaking it.”
Brooks used that figure as a reference point, he said, for great defense.
“We talked a little bit about what some of the really all-time UCLA teams have been able to do,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to play the best defense as possible.”
Brooks thought his team should have held No. 15 Indiana and No. 8 Michigan, who each scored five goals, to three or four – one less point and the Bruins would be under the 2.88 mark.
Kapana did her part to get the goals against allowed average as low as possible, though, registering 10 saves against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
The sophomore continues to be UCLA’s primary goalie after splitting time in the cage with Alex Musselman last year.
“I knew coming into this year that I’d have a bigger role than last year,” Kapana said. “I have a really, really good first line of defense; all the girls are really good at shot blocking, taking away their responsibilities, funneling the ball to me especially on five-on-six.”
After playing six games and a number of scrimmages in the past two weeks, the team will have over a week and a half until it plays its next game against No. 13 Long Beach State on Feb. 3.
The match, in Long Beach, will be UCLA’s first nontournament game of the season.
“I think the break will be good,” Brooks said. “We have a lot of film to go over. … It’s nice for us to have some time to reexamine where we’re at and where we need to work.”