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Freshmen players lead No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo to victory over No. 14 Indiana

Freshman utility Anna Pearson holds the ball on offense. The freshman scored her first two goals as a Bruin on Friday against No. 14 Indiana. (Javier Jauregui Ramirez/Daily Bruin)

Women's Water Polo

No. 14 Indiana6
No. 3 UCLA15

By Amelie Ionescu

Jan. 21, 2023 12:04 p.m.

Fresh faces dominated the Bruins’ win over the Hoosiers.

After a low-scoring first half during Friday afternoon, No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo’s (1-0, 1-0 MPSF) freshmen led the charge against No.14 Indiana (0-1, 0-1) as the Bruins clinched their home and season opener 15-6. UCLA started the season with a ranked win for the second year in a row.

The blue and gold began with a slow first quarter, but two freshmen kept the team afloat. Utilities Genoa Rossi and Anna Pearson opened up the scoring, with Pearson notching an equalizer after the Hoosiers took their first and only lead of the game at 2-1.

“Collectively as a group, we have been working on how to work together as a team,” said graduate student utility Katrina Drake. “It was a collective group effort on offense and on defense.”

Freshmen continued denting the twine throughout the second quarter, as utility Sienna Green notched her first of two Bruin goals. Despite holding Indiana scoreless in the stanza, UCLA could only bring in two goals of its own to solidify a 5-2 lead at the half.

Coach Adam Wright said the team will focus on improving offensively to supplement its defensive output.

“Defensively, we held Indiana to six goals,” Wright said. “Our awareness can be a little bit better, but our counter structure and six-on-five – that’ll be a focus on to improve for the rest of the season.”

The third time proved the charm, as the Bruins began an onslaught of seven goals to the Hoosiers’ three in the third quarter – a growing lead that never faltered throughout the rest of the match.

Green and Drake combined for three goals in the period, and the latter said the mix of rookies and veterans has benefitted the team’s dynamic.

“The new faces and old faces have lots of energy and are honestly just inspiring us, who have been here to keep up the hard work,” Drake said. “Everyone’s going to have such a big contribution, … so it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a great year.”

While Drake and the rest of the Bruins’ roster all hail from the United States, Green touched down in Los Angeles less than three weeks ago.

Originally from Australia, Green is the first Bruin from outside the U.S. in two years. Before beginning her career in Westwood, Green made a splash internationally, playing on the Australian Senior National Team and serving as the captain and highest goal scorer of the Australian Youth Team, both in 2022.

Despite the different structures and continents, Green said she is assimilating well, in large part because of her team.

“The group of girls have been the best in helping me make the transition,” Green said. “It’s so easy to be around these girls. They are so nice and supportive.”

Out of the 15 total goals Friday, five came from freshmen. Wright said the newest members of the team are going to have an impact off the bat.

“Their impact is going to be big, and it’s going to be important,” Wright said. “It’s a process, and they’re going to have to continue to grow. But if they do grow, all of their roles will continue to evolve.”

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Amelie Ionescu | Sports senior staff
Ionescu was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, swim and dive and rowing beats, and a contributor on the women's tennis beat.
Ionescu was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, swim and dive and rowing beats, and a contributor on the women's tennis beat.
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