UCLA women’s water polo has shown its ability to score a high number of goals, but the team’s defense has also been key to its success.
At the start of the season, junior goalie Carlee Kapana said the team had to learn a whole new way to play defense because of its new coach, Adam Wright.
“Learning new things is always cool because then you can have double the amount of knowledge on defense,” Kapana said.
Over the past couple of weekends, No. 4 UCLA have kept a 12-1 record, only losing one game against No. 2 USC at the Triton Invitational on Sunday.
The Bruins have only let in 58 goals compared to the 129 goals they have scored.
Their three goalies – Kapana, sophomore Hannah Storum and freshman Jahmea Bent have been splitting time in the cage. Bent made her UCLA debut in the season opener.
While coach Adam Wright said he thinks the team is thriving defensively, he still believes that there is more work to do in and out of the pool.
“We really want to work on transitions and 5-on-6, which has been going in a good way, we will see, we have to keep going,” Wright said. “Also, our front court attack.”
Wright said a key part of UCLA’s struggles the past few games have been the times that it gave up goals when it was 5-on-6.
Senior attacker Devin Grab said a key part of how UCLA can improve would be working on its offense when the team is up a player because of a penalty by the opposing team.
“We can do a better job putting away our 6-on-5, I don’t think that our percentage was very high especially in the USC game,” Grab said. “Just moving the ball quickly and looking for our post because I think that we have a lot of opportunities there so increasing that percentage will help us.”
Confidence in a leveled playing field
Wright has utilized the depth of his roster throughout the season by giving playing time to both upperclassmen and younger players.
Junior defender Rachel Whitelegge said the equality of playing time has given the team a confidence boost.
“I think it brings a lot of confidence to our team because we are so young, we graduated so many seniors last year and have so many new players,” Whitelegge said. “We were kind of nervous starting the year because we were so young with a new coach, but I think we have showed that we are fierce and we have a lot of fire in our bellies.”
UCLA will play No. 7 UC Irvine on Friday at 7 p.m. in Irvine.