Tuesday, February 25

Young women’s water polo players make selves at home

Freshman defender Alys Williams has transitioned successfully to collegiate water polo. Neil Bedi / Daily Bruin

When freshman defender Alys Williams was in high school, she didn’t have a place to swim that she could call home. 

“In my high school, we didn’t have a home pool,” Williams said.

“So being able to come to a pool and call it our own, it’s really cool and it’s really fun.”

The presence of fans that come out to support the Bruins at Spieker Aquatics Center provides a sense of support Williams was not able to have back in high school.

However, Williams and the UCLA women’s water polo team won’t be able to utilize this supporting environment much this season: Road games comprise two-thirds of UCLA’s schedule.

Coach Brandon Brooks said he enjoyed the team’s first home game last Saturday against Cal Lutheran and that the team values the games it is able to play at Spieker.

“It feels great (to be playing at home),” Brooks said.

“It’s always nice to play here in front of friends and family and at our home pool. We don’t get that many games at home, so we cherish them.”

No. 3 UCLA (12-1) will play its second home game in a row on Friday night when it hosts UC Irvine.

It will be the second of nine home games the Bruins will have during the regular season, compared to 18 on the road.

While road games have highlighted much of the team’s early season, the young group of eight true freshmen on the UCLA roster has been responding positively by contributing early on and helping the team win 12 of its first 13 games.

Attacker Rachel Fattal’s 20 goals make for the second highest total on the team and the highest among the freshmen. Behind her is Williams with 13 goals, which is good for third most on the team.

Williams attributed her early success in her freshman season to the unity of the team that allowed her to quickly realize her role.

“There is so much camaraderie and so much support on the bench (and) off the bench from the coaching to the stands – it made coming into a new team really easy,” Williams said.

“It made me be able to fill a role I never thought I’d be able to do my freshman year.”

Though not a freshman, attacker Danielle Ferraro has likewise shown her ability to be an active scorer for the Bruins in the season’s early goings. The sophomore netted three goals against the Cal Lutheran Regals on Saturday, bringing her total on the season to 10.

Ferraro echoed Williams’ sentiments, saying her teammates are the reason why she has been able to break free of defenders and make shots in the water.

“Personally, I think that practicing against my teammates makes me better every day,” Ferraro said.

“Just working really hard against them and then when it gets to the game it makes it easier (to execute the plays). Practicing against them every day just prepares me for the game a little bit more.”

Email Vasquez at [email protected]

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