No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo is off to a 6-0 start after the first two invitationals of the season.
But the Bruins have put up other numbers that differentiate this season’s undefeated start from the rest of the past seven undefeated starts.
So far the Bruins have scored 99 goals, the second highest amount UCLA has ever scored in its first six games – in 2015, they put up 108.
“That’s pretty good,” said coach Brandon Brooks.”It’s a lot of goals and that’s excellent, but at the same time, we still missed a lot of chances and didn’t finish that many shots.”
Even though the Bruins nearly cracked triple digits in goals scored, the team hopes to improve on the offensive side as the season progresses.
“For our offensive strategy, we have a lot of talent and sometimes it can be too fast of a game,” said freshman attacker and back-to-back MPSF Newcomer of the Week Maddie Musselman. “If we slow (the game) down, that will really help us in dictating our opponent and not letting them control the way we play.”
Despite how many times the team has been able to find the net so far this season, UCLA prides itself on its defense. As the players have said many times this year, their defense leads into their offense.
“Our defense is something we like to focus on every game,” said redshirt senior defender Alys Williams. “It’s definitely the key to our team. We focus on getting stops which will start the offense.”
The Bruins have limited their opponents to just 18 goals in the first six games. The last time the Bruins held opponents to 18 goals was 2005 – a year UCLA hoisted the National Championship trophy.
“Going into the season we set high goals for our team,” said Musselman. “One of our goals is to keep teams under five goals. We’ve been able to do that against teams we’ve played already and hopefully we can continue to shut teams down on defense.”
The Bruins have a lighter schedule over the next couple weeks. The next game will be Friday, Feb. 3 at No. 14 Long Beach State. Following that game will be the annual alumni exhibition match and the next official competition resumes for the home opener against No. 6 UC Irvine Feb. 17.
Despite the gap in competition, the Bruins feel confident that this break in action will not slow down the team’s momentum.
“We like to treat our practices like games,” Williams said. “We don’t really think of the space in between games as a break. Right now, we’re focusing on what we learned and what we need to improve on from this past weekend to focus our attention to the next team we play.”