The last time the Bruins and Bears met was the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Invitational in late September where then-No.4 UCLA took down then-No.1 California 9-8 in double overtime.
The Bruins only had one day to prepare for that match.
With a whole week to prepare before Saturday’s meeting, No. 2 UCLA (15-2, 0-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) came away disappointed after falling to No. 3 California (17-1, 1-0) 12-9 at Spieker Aquatics Center in the MPSF conference opener.
“Who we are during the week is who we are on that weekend and this couldn’t be a greater example,” said coach Adam Wright.
California opened the game with a pair of scores, but UCLA responded with three unanswered goals including a one-timer from junior attacker David Stiling that would briefly give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
However, the Bruins went flat in the middle periods, failing to maintain an offensive rhythm while the Bears poured in seven goals.
“Today we struggled a bit with executing the things that we did right in practice,” said senior attacker Alex Roelse. “Then we got into the game, we lacked that bit of confidence in doing what we should’ve known how to execute.”
The offense was hesitant and the Bears continued to take advantage on the counterattack, taking a three-goal lead into the fourth period.
The energy from the first period returned for UCLA in the fourth quarter, but to comeback from a three-goal deficit proved to be too much.
The Bruins went 2-for-7 on the power play and struggled to find success on second-chance opportunities.
“We didn’t attack the goal with confidence,” said Wright. “We were afraid.”
Senior center Matt Farmer said the team was hesitant because it was too worried about the things that it could not control.
“I think we need to stay present,” said Farmer. “Not thinking about what happened before or what the score is, not thinking about what could happen next.”
Following the loss, Wright emphasized the importance of consistency – one of UCLA’s biggest issues this season.
“It’s the same thing we’ve explained the entire year, we’re not consistent,” Wright said. “We are not consistent in how we train, we are not consistent from quarter to quarter and if you play against a team like California, you will pay the price.”
UCLA will return to action Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Center to face No. 5 Pacific.