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Women’s water polo to face Golden Bears and rematch Pacific with improved defense

Junior attacker Lexi Liebowitz is one of eight players on No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo’s roster that has 12 or more goals. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's water polo


No. 8 California
Saturday, 12 p.m.

Berkeley, CA
No TV info
No. 23 Pacific
Sunday, 1 p.m.

Stockton, CA
No TV info

By Henry Mahnke

March 6, 2020 1:55 a.m.

The Bruins will head into this weekend looking to build off their recent gains.

No. 2 UCLA (17-2, 1-0 MPSF) will travel to Berkeley to face No. 8 California (11-5, 0-1) on Saturday, before heading to Stockton to face No. 23 Pacific (2-11) on Sunday. These will be the Bruins’ first matches since the Barbara Kalbus Invitational third-place match on Feb. 23.

“I like that we haven’t played in two weeks,” said coach Adam Wright. “(The girls) have put in a great amount of work in the last … 10-plus days. They’ve worked hard, so it will be nice to finally play.”

The Bruins faced the Golden Bears three times last season, claiming two victories. In its lone loss, UCLA struggled to score in the first half, failing to put a single point on the scoreboard before halftime.

On Feb. 22 this year, the Bruins experienced its second loss of the season in a similar fashion, as UCLA fell behind No. 1 USC (12-1, 1-0) by five goals after two periods in an eventual 9-7 loss.

Junior attacker Lexi Liebowitz said in preparation for this season’s match against California, the team focused on learning from its past experiences.

“We just want to keep building on the last games we’ve had,” Liebowitz said. “(We want to) keep the good things and work on the things that we need to work on.”

Wright said the team will look to improve upon is its defense.

The Bruins have not lost a contest in which they surrendered fewer than six goals. Additionally, UCLA has ended 13 of its 17 wins with the opponent at least five goals behind.

“The defense is really everything for us … we may not be having our best offensive game, but if we play great defense, then we will have a chance,” Wright said. “We know Cal is gonna bring everything they have. They’re gonna come after us physically, and we gotta be able to make stops.”

In the past, UCLA’s defense has been a good indicator of how a match plays out.

The Bruins’ second game of the weekend will feature another familiar opponent, as UCLA and Pacific have played twice this season, with the Bruins prevailing 14-7 and 14-3 on Jan. 25 and Feb. 21, respectively.

In the game at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational on Feb. 21, eight UCLA players combined for the Bruins’ 14 goals. Freshman attacker Hannah Palmer said having a balanced distribution of goal-scorers is a key to the team’s success.

“I feel like it’s just that everyone is trying to get involved,” Palmer said. “We are all trying to get to the same goal.”

The Bruins will play California at 12 p.m. on Saturday and face the Tigers at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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Henry Mahnke | Sports contributor
Mahnke is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat.
Mahnke is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat.
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