Wednesday, July 17

Women’s water polo earns second place in invitational after loss to USC


Freshmen center Ava Johnson scored a career-high Saturday morning in UCLA women's water polo's 17-2 win over Santa Clara. The Bruins finished second at the Triton Invitational after falling to USC on Sunday night. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

Freshmen center Ava Johnson scored a career-high Saturday morning in UCLA women's water polo's 17-2 win over Santa Clara. The Bruins finished second at the Triton Invitational after falling to USC on Sunday night. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)


It was a disappointing end to what seemed to be a promising weekend for the Bruins.

“We got to see where we stand in the landscape of things and against a team like USC,” said coach Adam Wright. “We are beyond disappointed and unless we do things differently, it’ll be hard to play with a team like that.”

No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (13-1) finished second at the Triton Invitational Sunday night after a 10-3 loss to No. 1 USC (12-0), but still came out with wins against No. 6 UC Irvine (5-3), No. 11 UC Davis (6-6) and Santa Clara (2-6).

The Trojans dominated throughout the tournament on their way to their sixth straight Triton Invitational title.

USC posted a shutout going into the half building a 6-0 lead at the break. This was the first time this season where UCLA failed to score a goal in the first half of a game.

The Bruins eventually found the back of the net twice in the third thanks to junior attackers Maddie Musselman and Bronte Halligan. Sophomore attacker Lexi Leibowitz netted UCLA’s third goal of the game before the final buzzer.

UCLA still picked up three wins on the weekend and clinched their second consecutive 12-0 start to a season.

The Bruins were led by freshman center Ava Johnson with four goals in their 17-2 win against the Broncos.

“We knew going into the game that (Santa Clara) was going to press and in the past week we worked a lot on center shooting,” Johnson said. “It was all about reading the defense and reading what the goalie does and how her hands were and all of those worked in my favor.”

Musselman, redshirt senior attacker Grace Reego and freshman attacker Bella Baia each scored twice.

Senior Karlee Capana started each game this weekend and sophomore Jahmea Bent came in relief in each contest. Kapana piled up 23 stops on the weekend while allowing 12 goals, then Bent tallied 16 saves and surrendered nine scores.

Musselman added four more goals on the day in the 6-3 win over the Aggies. All of her goals came in the first half and UCLA carried a 5-1 lead into halftime.

Reego provided some insurance with her third goal of the day before it was all said and done. Kapana got the start and played until Bent subbed in for the final five minutes of action.

In the head-to-head matchup between the Bruins and Anteaters this season, the Bruins have a 2-0 lead.

Eight different Bruins scored and freshman attacker Val Ayala picked up her fifth hat trick of the year. UCLA led 6-2 at the half and all the goals came from 6-on-5 opportunities.

The Anteaters did not go down quietly, though, scoring four goals in the second half. Insurance from Ayala’s third goal as well as scores from senior defender Rachel Whitelegge and freshman center Skylar Savar allowed the Bruins to win 11-6.

Reego, who had five goals on the weekend, said that the weekend was going in a positive direction, but the team needs to address the things they didn’t do right rather than just patch them up.

“Mistakes are really glaring and kind of hit you in the face against a really strong opponent like we saw with USC,” Reego said. “It’s important to remember that while they can be covered up at times, in the long run, those are the things that will come back and haunt you.”

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Sports staff

Veal is currently a Sports staff writer for the softball and women's water polo beats. He was previously a reporter for the cross country and men's soccer beats.


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