The Bruins will have an opportunity to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
No. 4 UCLA women’s water polo (21-5, 4-2 MPSF) will play at Stanford on Friday against No. 6 Arizona State (12-11, 1-5) in the MPSF championship. Should the Bruins win the championship, they will receive an automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament.
In UCLA’s matchup with Arizona State earlier this season, the Bruins pulled away in the second half for a 12-9 victory after leading by just one at the half.
UCLA lost to No. 1 USC (23-1, 5-1) by a score of 9-8 earlier this season. The Bruins had a chance to tie the game in the final period, but came up short.
“The USC girls have been playing extremely well – they are a great opponent,” said junior attacker Bronte Halligan. “These are my favorite games to play as a Bruin.”
Coach Adam Wright said the team fell short in completing the upset against its crosstown rival because of lack of belief in itself down the stretch.
“They have to start trusting themselves,” Wright said. “Overall, they hung in there and they had a chance to tie it up at the end.”
With a close loss behind them, the team faces the possibility of meeting USC again this weekend at the conference championships.
Wright said the Bruins will need to clean up a number of things that plagued them in their previous meeting with the Trojans before the MPSF tournament.
“Some of the goals we gave up early on,” Wright said. “Small little mistakes of us (stopping) swimming early, not getting to the right shoulder.”
Senior attacker Lizette Rozeboom also mentioned that the team will need to focus on staying in the moment.
“Part of our mentality is that we just keep going,” Rozeboom said. “We don’t look at the past or the future, we just keep going – we can’t focus on the now.”
Going into the weekend, Halligan said the underclassmen need to up their confidence upon entering the game.
“We have a lot of younger players that play big minutes,” Halligan said. “It’s up to them to now step up and know that the whole team is behind them and can totally back them.”
UCLA will face Arizona State in the MPSF championships Friday at 12:45 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center in Stanford, California.