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Men’s water polo set to face Stanford in 1st rematch since MPSF Invite defeat

Redshirt junior attacker Jack Larsen raises his arm on defense in a game against UC Santa Barbara. Larsen has scored six goals over the Bruins’ last four games. (Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men's Water Polo

No. 1 Stanford
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Avery Aquatic Center
Pac-12 Los Angeles

By Ricardo Garcia

Oct. 13, 2022 4:06 p.m.

The Bruins are heading up north for a rematch against the opponent that handed them their only loss of the season.

No. 3 UCLA men’s water polo (16-1) is traveling to the Bay Area for its second matchup against No. 1 Stanford (17-0) in both teams’ Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference play opener. The game also serves as a rematch of the MPSF Invite championship game, in which the Cardinal handed the Bruins their first loss of the season.

In the first meeting at Stanford, the blue and gold struggled against the Cardinal’s press defense, shooting 7-of-32 from the field and 1-of-3 in six-on-five situations. The seven goals scored were tied for the fewest UCLA has scored in a game this season.

“We’ve definitely been preparing in practice for what we know is coming,” said graduate student utility Evan Rosenfeld. “The nice thing about playing someone for a second time is you have video of a whole game to see what they’re doing.”

Since then, the Bruins have reversed a recent trend of slow starts in the first half of their games. In their game against UC San Diego on Saturday, the Bruins dented the twine six times in the first quarter, the most in the opening stanza of any game this season. Across its previous six games, the blue and gold scored a combined eight goals in the first quarters.

“We’ve always been looking to start with that intensity and jump on them right from the get-go,” said redshirt junior attacker Jack Larsen. “The first group was able to come out strong and get those first couple goals and play solid defense.”

Rosenfeld said a successful week of practice before the Bruins’ matchup against the Tritons contributed to their best start in their previous game, adding that the same will be important for their matchup against the Cardinal this weekend.

“That energy and that confidence and preparation really fuels the game on the weekend,” Rosenfeld said. “The start of the game comes down to the week of practice we had before.”

With the blue and gold’s season already more than halfway complete, coach Adam Wright said he wants his team to have opportunities to grow each week.

“There’s no doubt trusting the system and trusting each other and trusting yourself when moments aren’t going well is a big part of the process,” Wright said. “This group is getting glimpses of when they do things right, no matter the situation. Part of the experience is learning from things that don’t put you in a position to be well.”

Opening sprint against the Cardinal is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center.

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Ricardo Garcia | Sports reporter
Garcia is currently a reporter on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the swim & dive, track & field and men's water polo beats.
Garcia is currently a reporter on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the swim & dive, track & field and men's water polo beats.
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