Unlike the last time UCLA women’s water polo played at home, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky Saturday.
In its first conference game at home, No. 3 UCLA (13-1, 2-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) cruised to a 17-5 victory against No. 23 Cal State Bakersfield (9-3, 0-3).
MPSF Newcomer of the Week and UCLA freshman attacker Maddie Musselman led all scorers with four goals, but it was redshirt senior attacker Rachel Fattal who garnered the longest ovation. Early in the second period, Fattal, netting the third goal of the game, scored her 200th career goal, drawing extra applause from the fans at Spieker Aquatics Center.
“I actually didn’t know that I scored my 200th goal,” said Fattal, “It’s pretty cool and I’m pretty excited. I’m sure my mom would be proud.”
Only three other Bruins have scored 200 or more goals throughout their careers. Fattal now only needs one more goal to tie Katie Rolan’s 201 goals for third on the all-time scoring list.
UCLA got off to a rapid start when redshirt senior attacker Kodi Hill scored the opening goal on a six-on-five opportunity with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
Fattal, who took the first shot of the game, scored her first goal of the game shortly after and, after a goal from Musselman, added her second.
Coming out of a timeout, the Roadrunners capitalized on a man-up advantage when junior utility player Cassandra Ream tallied her team’s first goal with 1:20 to go in the initial frame.
The first quarter concluded with a goal by UCLA junior attacker Devin Grab to make it 5-1.
Early on, senior goalkeeper Courtney Wahlstrom kept things close for Bakersfield. She ended up finishing with 13 total saves.
But throughout the contest, the Roadrunners were marred by constant shot clock issues, oftentimes ending possessions with forced shots or shot clock violations, and had to play conservatively.
“I think that our hard press in the beginning really set them back,” said senior defender Aubrie Monahan. “We focus a lot on counterattack and speed and try to use it to our advantage.”
After a UCLA score, rather than pass the ball back to a field player, the Roadrunners passed the ball all the way back to the goalie nearly every time, opting not to test the Bruins’ defense. By halftime, the Bruins had a 12-1 lead.
In the third quarter, Musselman, redshirt senior defender Alys Williams and Grab all scored on consecutive possessions, giving the Bruins a 15-1 advantage.
Roadrunners junior utility player Jada Helberg interrupted the scoring run with a goal of her own, but Monahan ended the quarter with a strike.
With a 16-2 lead by the fourth quarter, coach Brandon Brooks elected to play different lineups that featured more underclassmen. He also subbed out sophomore goalkeeper Carlee Kapana, who totaled six saves, with freshman goalkeeper Hannah Storum.
“I played 12 players that have not gotten much time, mostly sophomores and freshmen,” said Brooks, “I wanted to give them some opportunity, and they need to keep improving.”