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Men’s water polo sets sights on No. 4 Pacific following defeat to No. 1 Stanford

Graduate student utility Evan Rosenfeld tracks down a UC Santa Barbara player. Rosenfeld picked up a pair of goals at the MPSF Invite last weekend. (Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men's Water Polo


No. 4 Pacific
Friday, 7 p.m.

Spieker Aquatics Center
No TV info
No. 12 Pepperdine
Sunday, 1 p.m.

Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool
WCC Sports Stream

By Cole Lizar

Sept. 29, 2022 10:11 p.m.

After suffering their first loss of the season, the Bruins will face another top-five ranked opponent in Pacific.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (13-1) will host No. 4 Pacific (13-2) on Friday at Spieker Aquatics Center before traveling Sunday to face No. 12 Pepperdine (6-8) at the Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool.

UCLA enters the weekend on the heels of an 8-7 loss to No. 1 Stanford – its first loss of the season after a 13-game winning streak. This loss brings the Bruins’ record to 6-2 over the Cardinal since the beginning of the 2020 season.

Graduate student utility Evan Rosenfeld said this season the team has been struggling with the initial moments of the games.

“The biggest thing for us right now is going to be how we start the game,” Rosenfeld said. “The hard part of our game this season has been coming out strong and staying strong. We’ve been playing much better in the second half of games.”

The blue and gold has failed to outscore its opponents in the first quarter in five of their past six games. Over this period of time, the Bruins only managed to outscore Stanford when they led 2-1 after the first stanza.

Rosenfeld said he believes the Bruins’ strength in the second half emerges from the depth of the team.

“Our depth of roster has been a big part in our success,” Rosenfeld said. “We can play 15 guys while other teams play eight or nine. We wear teams out, and we tire them out early.”

In five of the past six games, the Bruins have scored more points in the second half than the first. Through the same five matches, the blue and gold has outscored its opponents in the second half as well.

Coach Adam Wright said the team is looking to improve upon the areas that it has struggled this season – especially in playing with consistent energy throughout the game.

“We have two great opponents this weekend,” Wright said. “Friday, at some point, we’re going to find ourselves in tough positions. If we stay the course … consistently from beginning to end, I think we’ll put ourselves in a position to be successful. Our goal is finding consistency and starting off the game with that.”

The Bruins’ Friday contest against Pacific represents the fourth time the team will face a top-five ranked opponent this season and is just the second home game of the season for the blue and gold.

Wright said the Tigers should be a challenge for the Bruins, but he thinks his team will put up a fight.

“(Pacific) is a really, really good team,” Wright said. “Understanding that the little details matter, whether that’s communication, body position or other systematic details, is going to be really important for us this weekend.”

Both UCLA and Pacific defeated Long Beach State and lost to Stanford at the MPSF Invite last weekend. Both teams also sported wins over top-10 ranked USC and UC Santa Barbara earlier this season.

After facing Pacific, UCLA will hit the road Sunday to play Pepperdine. In the all-time series, the Bruins are 83-31-1 over the Waves.

Freshman utility Gray Carson said this UCLA team is unlike any other team he has seen, and he has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“Every person plays a role,” Carson said. “That’s what makes this team the best. That’s really what drew me here – the fact that no matter how good I am, I always feel like I’ll be a part of the team rather than sitting out.”

UCLA is set for its first sprint against Pacific at 7 p.m. on Friday at Spieker Aquatics Center.

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Cole Lizar | Sports contributor
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
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