Sunday, April 5

Narrow victory over San Jose State demands a change in tack for men’s water polo

Freshman attacker Ashworth Molthen has registered 21 goals on the season, finding the back of the net in 13 of the 16 games so far this year for UCLA men’s water polo. UCLA is one of two teams remaining in the MPSF conference that remains undefeated. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

The Bruins are a top-ranked program in the nation, but that hasn’t stopped their opponents from keeping matches close.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (16-0, 0-0 MPSF) came out on top in a close game against No. 16 San Jose State (4-7, 0-1 GCC), winning 11-8 after the two were tied at halftime.

Coach Adam Wright said his team could be playing down to their opponents, but that it isn’t an excuse for how the team performed against the Spartans.

“(Playing down is something) we try to work out and address,” Wright said. “We can make a million excuses: we’re young, we have new guys playing, somebody’s sick, (but) it’s not an excuse. We don’t do a great job of taking responsibility for our actions.”

The Spartans’ season so far backs up Wright’s claims. San Jose State played all of the top-four teams so far, losing 16-5 to No. 1 USC (18-1, 0-1 MPSF), 16-3 to No. 3 Stanford (9-0, 1-0), and 22-1 to No. 4 California (12-1, 0-0).

The Spartans scored more goals and allowed fewer goals against the Bruins than any of their other MPSF rivals. Senior defender Warren Snyder, however, said despite the team’s performance, UCLA will be fine in their upcoming games.

“(San Jose State) is a great team,” Snyder said. “They gave us a good game (Saturday). … If we have a good week of training, I feel that we’ll be prepared to have a good MPSF (Invitational).”

In their last four games against top-10 teams, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 39-27, winning by an average goal difference of 3 goals per game.

The Bruins have won by a combined total of 111-54 through their last seven games against opponents ranked No. 11 through No. 20. In its five other games, UCLA has outscored its opponents 84-30, with higher than a 10-goal average margin of victory.

Freshman attacker Ashworth Molthen said he feels the team will find a way to play at a consistently high level in the upcoming weeks.

“It’s kind of hard to say,” Molthen said. “We are a young team, but our goal is just to play the same every day, come out with a consistent mentality. It’s going to be tough.”

Molthen notched his 20th and 21st goals of the season against the Spartans. Snyder raised his season total to seven goals, this being his first multigoal game since Sept. 1 against Whittier.

The Bruins’ winning streak will be on the line when they play the Santa Clara Broncos (3-6, 0-2 WWPA) in the Mountain Pacific Invitational on Friday.

Assistant Sports editor

Perez is currently an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's water polo and track and field beats. He was previously a staff writer on the football, gymnastics, beach volleyball, women's water polo and men's water polo beats.

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