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UCLA men’s water polo to compete in 1st matchup against LMU since 2018

Senior attacker Tommy Gruwell swims with the ball in a game against California. Gruwell, along with sophomore attacker Chase Dodd, was placed on the Cutino Award watchlist. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin staff)

Men's Water Polo

No. 12 Loyola Marymount
Saturday, 12 p.m.

Burns Aquatics Center
No TV info

By Cole Lizar

Nov. 4, 2022 2:43 p.m.

After a string of games at home, the Bruins are hitting the road for the last time in the regular season.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (19-2, 1-1 MPSF) will face No. 12 Loyola Marymount (15-6, 7-1 WWPA) at Burns Aquatics Center on Saturday. The blue and gold enter the weekend on the heels of its first loss at home and second loss overall this season, which saw the Bruins bested by California in double overtime.

Graduate student attacker/utility Jake Cavano said to win its next matchup with Cal, UCLA needs to dictate the speed of the game.

“(We need to) play at a UCLA pace,” Cavano said. “We were caught up in playing the fast-paced water polo that Cal typically tends to play. They’re great at it, and we’re less good when we play at their pace. So that’s what we’ll focus on next time.”

With the end of the season approaching, multiple Bruins have collected Mountain Pacific Sports Federation weekly awards, and two – sophomore attacker Chase Dodd and senior attacker Tommy Gruwell – have been placed on a watchlist for the Cutino Award. The Cutino Award is given annually to recognize the best players in men’s and women’s water polo.

Gruwell said winning the Cutino Award is not as important as helping his team win the big prize – UCLA’s 120th national championship.

“I don’t really take too much pride or care much about individual awards,” Gruwell said. “To be honest, all I’m focused on is winning a championship at this point.”

In 30 meetings, UCLA has never lost to LMU, but the two Los Angeles schools have not faced each other since 2018.

Coach Adam Wright said the team cannot lose focus against LMU simply because of their history.

“When we’re locked in on the things that we’re in control of, we’re pretty tough,” Wright said. “That’s going to be really critical for us moving forward because when we go to LMU, they’re going to give us their best shot.”

Wright added that the team struggled to keep the physical aspect of the game separate from the psychological aspect against Cal, which can make other conference games against longtime rivals difficult.

“It’s both a physical game and an emotional game, and it’s a real challenge (to keep them separate),” Wright said. “It’s not easy, … but when we’ve been able to do that, and narrow the gap from when we stray from being present, we put ourselves in really good positions.”

Opening sprint against LMU is set for Saturday at 12 p.m. at Burns 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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