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UCLA women’s water polo begins new season with wins

Graduate student attacker Brooke Doten holds the ball up in the air behind her head during a UCLA women’s water polo game. (Julia Zhou/Assistant Photo editor)

Women's Water Polo

No. 3 UCLA19
No. 25 Marist6
No. 3 UCLA10
No. 10 UC San Diego9
No. 3 UCLA14
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara11

By Lamar Tuker

Jan. 22, 2024 1:47 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 23 at 11:04 p.m. 

The Bruins kicked off their season over the weekend with three wins with help from the freshmen class.

No. 3 UCLA’s women’s water polo (3-0) competed at the UCSB Winter Invitational over the weekend and took home wins against No. 25 Marist (1-3) and No. 10 UC San Diego (3-1) on Saturday and No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (3-1) on Sunday.

The Bruins’ 11 new additions contributed a collective 17 goals.

Coach Adam Wright said the new recruits need to get experienced quickly since a number of them will be essential players later on in the season.

“Our goal through the first month is to really get those new players as much experience as possible,” Wright said.

Saturday marked the Bruins’ first and second wins of the new season, winning their battle with the Red Foxes by 13 goals and overcoming the Tritons by just one point.

Against the Red Foxes, the Bruins shared the wealth with 12 different scorers across 19 goals. The first quarter saw six unanswered goals from six different Bruins.

Graduate student attacker Brooke Doten was the most familiar with the back of Marist’s net, notching a career-high three goals. The Davis local concluded her hat trick with the second-to-last Bruin goal of the fourth quarter, followed by sophomore attacker Taylor Smith’s buzzer-beater for Smith’s second goal of the game.

Doten said she was excited to begin her fifth season with the new group and wanted to start off strong.

“Setting that standard right off the bat was really important for us,” Doten said. “And I think we did that.”

Out of the three goalkeepers that saw action across the weekend, freshman Lauren Steele tallied up the highest number of saves without surrendering any goals to Marist through the first quarter. Steele also had eight saves during the game against UCSD.

Wright said the freshman goalie is still settling in, but her abilities are clear.

“She’s a really special goalie,” Wright said. “Our expectation is game by game. With just more experience, she’s going to get better and better.”

Unlike their first game, the Bruins were unable to attain a lead in the first quarter against the Tritons, relying on the second quarter’s two-point advantage to secure their win.

Wright said the team’s missed opportunities to score and their turnovers were opportunities to learn.

“We turned over the ball a lot in the first half and got better in the second,” Wright said.

On Sunday, the Bruins defeated the Gauchos by three points. Nine Bruins scored during the game, with sophomore utility Anna Pearson leading the group with four goals and Steele and freshman utility Panni Szegedi each adding two of their own.

The Bruins will head up to Berkeley to participate in the California Cup this upcoming weekend, where they’ll compete against No. 1 Stanford, No. 11 UC Davis and No. 4 California.

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Lamar Tuker
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