UCLA women’s water polo took on the nation’s top-ranked team for the second game in a row.
And for the second time, the Bruins fell short of victory.
Although No. 4 UCLA (21-5, 2-3 MPSF) beat No. 1 USC (21-1, 5-0) in their MPSF matchup at this time last season, the Bruins closed out their regular season with an 11-5 loss to the Trojans on Saturday night.
“It’s my responsibility to have a team ready to go and we weren’t,” said coach Adam Wright. “We were beat to every ball, we were reacting, we weren’t trying to take initiative. We’ve been working hard and training really well. This isn’t the team that we are.”
Despite junior goalkeeper Carlee Kapana’s efforts, UCLA ended the first quarter trailing 2-0. USC scored once at the halfway mark and again with less than two minutes to go in the first.
The Trojans scored first in the second quarter. Senior attacker Devin Grab earned the Bruins their first goal of the night two minutes into the second quarter, making the score 3-1. UCLA could not find the back of the net again that period. USC scored two more times before the end of the half.
“We gave up way too many counter goals in this game,” Grab said. “Their percentage on 6-on-5 was way too high. We are going to work on that.”
Junior attacker Lizette Rozeboom scored first in the second half, and sophomore attacker Maddie Musselman assisted senior center Alexis Angermund to score just 30 seconds later, bringing the score to 5-3. USC answered with four more goals, ending the third quarter with a score of 9-3.
Musselman scored a goal of her own early in the fourth quarter. The Trojans scored twice more before redshirt junior attacker Grace Reego was able to send in a final goal, making the end score 11-5.
“From now on it’s (going to) have to be about us believing in ourselves,” said sophomore attacker Bronte Halligan. “We know that we can compete with any team – like USC, like Cal, like Stanford.”
The two teams met once earlier this season when UCLA lost to USC at home in February. UCLA holds a 50-26 all-time advantage over USC.
This was UCLA’s last game before they compete in the MPSF championships next weekend. USC will host the NCAA Tournament the following weekend.