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Women’s water polo opens season with one win, one loss at UCSB invitational

Junior goalkeeper Jahmea Bent got her first start of the season in goal for No. 2 UCLA women’s water polo, saving five shots while allowing four goals in one half against CSUN. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kyle Boal

Jan. 18, 2020 12:38 a.m.

The Bruins kept inching their way back, but ultimately fell an inch short of the finish line in Santa Barbara.

In its first loss ever in the UCSB Winter Invitational, No. 2 UCLA (1-1) fell to No. 11 UCSB (1-0) 9-8. Earlier in the afternoon, UCLA throttled No. 22 CSUN (1-1) 16-6 in a game in which the Bruins never trailed.

Shooting 0-7 in 6-on-5 situations and only 8-of-24 from the pool against the Gauchos, the Bruins seemed to lack a go-to scoring option. Coach Adam Wright is known for having a culture that perpetuates scoring from all players, but a young roster lacked command of the situation.

The teams poor shooting highlighted the young team’s lack of urgency in crunch time around the net according to Wright.

“Sports are psychological warfare,” Wright said. “Whether it was in the front court or on 6-5 we had three, four, five players at all times in the water that didn’t want the responsibility of the game in their hands.”

Sophomore and freshman utilities Katrina Drake and Abbi Hill both had hat tricks in the game against UCSB. Drake’s three goals were nearly half off her 2019 total of seven.

UCSB jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, and while the Bruins marched back to tie the game at four, the Gauchos went on a 4-0 run. UCLA was never able to recover afterward, despite pulling within one goal.

“I think we started off slow,” Drake said. “We ended up having a strong ending which is good but it’s something we’re working on.”

The Bruins tried to race back from multiple goal deficits throughout the game. Last season, they came back from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead against Stanford in the NCAA semifinals before eventually falling in overtime.

Wright said the team needs to be more consistent and focus on the future rather than dwelling on the past when the team starts trailing.

“I believe that we can always find a way out,” Wright said. “The reality is that (the players) have to believe that. I said to them during a timeout, we can’t change the past, but how we want to approach this next possession is totally up to us.”

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Georgia Phillips started and played the whole game against UCSB, tallying nine saves but allowing nine goals in her first collegiate match.

In the game against the Matadors, junior goalkeeper Jahmea Bent started but was later replaced by freshman goalkeeper Quinn Winter. When asked about the choice to play all three goalies throughout the day, Wright noted the importance of depth at goalie, while also trying to find a number one option.

“They’ve all done a really nice job,” Wright said. “That’s one area where it’s nice. We can put any one of those three in there and feel comfortable, while also seeing what the best groups and combinations are.”

Winter, who had 257 saves in her high school career, described college water polo as more intense, but also praised her former high school teammate, redshirt freshman attacker Alex Peros, who had three goals against CSUN.

“It’s a different level of intensity, which is really fun to be apart of,” Winter said. “Also, I’d tell Peros to keep killing it, she’s only getting better and better.”

UCLA returns to action tomorrow in another doubleheader. This time against UC San Diego and Iona at 9:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively.

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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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