The Bruins wrapped up their nonconference schedule in Irvine this weekend.
No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (16-3) battled No. 17 Long Beach State (4-8), No. 6 Michigan (8-7) and No. 2 Stanford (10-1) and finished in fourth place after a 7-6 overtime loss to No. 4 California (10-2) at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational.
“As a whole on the weekend, we had great progression in a lot of areas,” said coach Adam Wright. “The reality is that we played really well against Long Beach and Michigan and created some great opportunities against Cal and Stanford, but we continued to give away easy goals.”
The Golden Bears had a 4-0 lead at the half, but the Bruins kept inching closer in the second half until the game was tied at four-all with just under three minutes to play.
Cal jumped to a 6-5 lead after the first overtime period. Both teams scored once in the second overtime period, and the Bears came out on top.
Senior goalkeeper Carlee Kapana started all four games of the Barbara Kalbus Invitational. She piled up 36 saves on the weekend, 10 of which came against Cal.
“For me it’s all about remembering the opponent’s tendencies and being alert at all times,” Kapana said. “Where they like to shoot is always is in the back of mind, as well as just trusting my instinct and reacting to the shot.”
One year ago, UCLA and Stanford squared off in the semifinal game of the Barbara Kalbus invitational.
The Cardinal went on to beat the Bruins 10-3, and this year’s matchup yielded the same result – almost with the same score.
Stanford started out with a 4-0 lead in the first quarter and nearly shut out UCLA for the entire first half, but junior attacker Bronte Halligan was able to erase the Bruins’ zero on the scoreboard and make the score 5-1 at the break.
The Bruins would get no closer than four goals in what would end as a 10-4 Cardinal win, making it four straight losses for UCLA against Stanford.
Despite the two losses, UCLA kicked off the tournament with a 16-6 win over Long Beach State on Friday and a 15-5 win over Michigan.
“I think we played really well and really committed to playing our game,” said junior attacker Maddie Musselman. “We never had to get too tricky or go outside of what we needed to do in the first two games, and that’s something we kind of strayed away from in the last two games.”
Senior center Sarah Sheldon turned in a season-high and career-high-tying three goals against the 49ers. Musselman, senior attacker Louise Hazell and freshman attackers Val Ayala and Bella Baia all got in on the scoring surge as well, each finding the net twice.
Musselman led the Bruins with a hat trick, and Sheldon, Baia, Halligan, and sophomore attacker Roxy Wheaton each added two goals of their own against the Wolverines.
Against Michigan, the score was tied at one after the first frame, but UCLA went on to score eight unanswered goals while not allowing a score for over 11 minutes of action. Seven more Bruin goals led to their 16th win of the year.
This marked the last tournament for UCLA until April’s conference championships.
Wright said the Bruins are fortunate for all the nonconference tournaments and the teams that they played, but their work is cut out for them.
“We have another chance against Cal on Sunday, and hopefully we can clean up the things we need to work on,” Wright said. “We have to get better at shooting, better on our 6-on-5 and we have to be better at being us.”