The last time UCLA faced No. 5 Pacific, they were trying to stave off an upset.
This time it would be different.
No. 3 UCLA (16-2, 0-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) never trailed Pacific (14-4) in its second match-up against the Tigers this season, securing a 12-11 win.
“We were a completely different team today,” said coach Adam Wright. “Give credit for the energy (Pacific) put in at the end of the game, but we controlled the game from beginning to end.”
Although the Bruins never trailed, the Tigers made a run in the fourth quarter to nearly even out the score.
The Tigers cut the lead to 11-7 with back-to-back power play goals in the opening minutes of the final quarter.
“For the first three quarters I thought we executed our game plan. We let it slip in the fourth quarter and that’s something we can’t do,” said senior center Matt Farmer. “But fortunately we got the win.”
The Bruins didn’t score until halfway through the fourth quarter where senior utility Alex Roelse scored on a cross pool pass from senior goalkeeper Aleksander Ruzic.
That goal would be the only goal of the quarter for UCLA as they drained time on the clock to secure the one goal win.
“When we played them in the MPSF tournament, we only knew them from the system of last year, but obviously that changes,” Ruzic said. “They had more plays and we were much more comfortable with their style of play this time.”
The largest lead of the game came in the third quarter when the Bruins led 11-5. Two goals from Farmer pushed the Bruins to a comfortable lead heading into the final eight minutes of the game.
The difference in the game proved to be UCLA’s 6-on-5 conversions. The Bruins converted over half of their power-play opportunities going 4-for-6. Pacific went 7-for-13 on 6-on-5 opportunities.
“We were in a position where mathematically the game was over and where we had the opportunity to hold the ball,” Wright said. “We were making some poor choices and getting offensive fouls and giving counterattacks the other way, which can’t happen so, you know, lesson learned, but again overall a really good game from the guys today.”
Wright was able to plug in multiple rotations throughout the game, allowing different players on the roster to get playing time in the pool.
Ruzic got the start in the cage for the Bruins – he registered eight saves and gave up seven goals on power-play opportunities.
UCLA will face No. 4 Stanford for the first time this season Saturday in their second conference game of the year.