The No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo team has won its first seven games of the season.
It has beaten its opponents by an average of 13.1 goals per game and has only conceded 2.86 goals per game to start the season, all while on the road.
But finally, over a month into the season, UCLA (7-0) will play an official game at home in its home opener against No. 6 UC Irvine (7-3) on Friday.
UCLA’s last game was two weeks ago, when it coasted to a 13-2 win over No. 15 Long Beach State, and the players have had ample opportunity to rest up and prepare for their next slate of games.
The speed of this year’s team has been one of its strengths and it will look to continue exploiting that facet of its game Friday evening.
“I think that we have a very fast team,” said coach Brandon Brooks. “I would look for us to get out on the counterattack, I would look for us to use our speed.”
Despite the strong start to the season, the Bruins believe that they still have room for improvement both defensively and offensively.
“I think something we are really trying to work on right now is our communication in the pool,” said redshirt senior attacker Kodi Hill. “Being really loud, especially being louder than the other team.”
Communication is something that the Bruins have been stressing all season as they prepare for an Anteater team that has averaged 12.2 goals per game and scored 122 total goals.
Center McKenna Mitchell and utility player Mary Brooks currently lead UC Irvine in scoring with 23 goals apiece.
Needless to say, the Bruin defense will be tested.
“I think (we need to work on having) better and better counter defense, improved consistency on our counterattack structure, excellent five-on-six defense and our centers holding deep position,” Brooks said.
With so many moving parts on the UCLA team, the home opener will be another opportunity for it to put everything together, and for the first time this year, the Bruins will get that chance in front of a home crowd.
“We all play our own role,” said redshirt senior defender Alys Williams. “Each of us individually has one goal that we work towards.”