Despite a failure to score in the first quarter, UCLA women’s water polo’s strong second quarter led the team to victory.
The No. 4 Bruins (21-3, 2-1 MPSF) took down the No. 6 Sun Devils (14-7, 0-3) by a score of 6-3 on Saturday. The win marked the second time this season that UCLA beat Arizona State, the first of which was a 7-6 victory for the Bruins.
Coach Adam Wright said that some of UCLA’s early-game shooting struggles came from the way the team was approaching the goal.
“We were approaching it to not miss,” Wright said. “When we stepped in the right way, we got our counterattack going in the second quarter, and we did a nice job of approaching the goal the right way.”
The Bruins scored four goals in the last four minutes of the second quarter to go into halftime leading 4-1.
“The energy was much better overall than where it’s been in other games,” Wright said. “It wasn’t the best start … but the way we played in the second quarter, with that kind of energy – I haven’t seen that all year.”
Sophomore attacker Bronte Halligan, who led UCLA with two goals, said that the Bruins were so successful in the second quarter because they began to push their counterattack. Senior attacker Devin Grab, sophomore attacker Maddie Musselman, redshirt junior attacker Grace Reego and junior attacker Lizette Rozeboom added a goal apiece.
Defensively, UCLA held Arizona State to just 1-of-8 shooting on 6-on-5 opportunities, and the Sun Devils’ only power-play goal was when both junior goalie Carlee Kapana and senior attacker Nicole Reynolds were excluded.
“The highlight of our defense was our 5-on-6,” Wright said. “If we do that, then we can keep ourselves in the game no matter how our offense is going. … Our 5-on-6 was a complete turnaround from where we’ve been.”
Kapana, who recorded six saves on the night, said that another strength of the Bruins’ defense was their shot blocking.
“We’ve definitely been working on our shot blocking, so getting a lot of blocks, helping me out in front of me,” Kapana said. “(We got) a lot more than we had previously been getting in games.”
UCLA will host No. 2 Stanford on Saturday for Senior Day.