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Men’s water polo focuses on energy going into final conference game

Sophomore attacker Ashworth Molthen said UCLA men’s water polo started its latest game against USC with low energy, as the Bruins picked up their first loss in conference play. (Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin)

By Kyle Boal

Nov. 14, 2019 12:03 a.m.

The Bruins need an increase in energy, according to coach Adam Wright.

On Saturday, then-No. 1 UCLA (16-2, 1-1 MPSF) lost its home finale to then-No. 4 USC (12-4, 2-0)10-7 in the Bruins’ first test this season as the No. 1 team in the nation. The loss has since moved them back two spots and allowed the Trojans to jump to first place.

“From an energy perspective, we got completely outplayed,” Wright said. “Really give credit to ‘SC – they came here and every facet of the game completely beat us.”

The game against USC was only the third time this season that UCLA has entered the fourth quarter without the lead. The other two times came last week against then-No. 8 California – in which UCLA came back to win – and in a loss to then-No. 3 Stanford in late September.

The Bruins’ seven goals against the Trojans were the fewest they scored in a game this season.

UCLA shot 7 of 26, good for its lowest mark of the season. Sophomore attacker Ashworth Molthen – who shot 1-of-8 on the game – said the disparity in energy was a reason for the loss to USC.

“USC plays with a lot of emotion and energy, and we obviously didn’t come out with either today,” Molthen said. “We came out with really low energy, so next time we play hopefully we can change that.”

Twenty-three of the 30 players on the Bruins’ roster are underclassmen, which junior attacker Nicolas Saveljic – who scored three of UCLA’s seven goals – said UCLA’s inexperienced roster and USC’s style of play were two major factors in the matchup.

“We have a really young team,” Saveljic said. “It was playing against ‘SC, and we treated it differently than we should have and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. I think that was something that we fell for.”

Wright, however, said there was nothing UCLA could do about its inexperience and said the team needs to focus on its energy to improve on the team’s poor performance shooting.

“It’s disappointing,” Wright said. “We can say we were nervous or that we’re young, but what’re we going to do? We aren’t changing, this is who we are. The reality is that it comes back to our approach to the game, the energy of the game, and that affects our shooting.”

Looking forward, the Bruins will head to Stanford to play their final regular-season game. The last time the teams met, the Cardinal claimed victory in a 13-9 match.

UCLA will have a chance to improve on its previous two games against conference rivals California and USC.

“We have Stanford coming next week,” Saveljic said. “We will try to take the best stuff from this game, learn and move forward.”

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Kyle Boal | Sports senior staff
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the football, men's water polo and swim & dive beats. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the football, men's water polo and swim & dive beats. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
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