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Bruins in Paris

UCLA women’s water polo narrowly beats Arizona State to remain undefeated

Sophomore attacker Taylor Smith fends off an opponent while looking to pass the ball. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Water Polo

No. 7 Arizona State12
No. 1 UCLA14

By Kai Dizon

Feb. 18, 2024 12:27 p.m.

Following five lead changes through the first three quarters, the score was tied heading into the final frame.

While the Sun Devils huddled at the side of the pool, coach Adam Wright met with his players out of view.

“I reminded them why we are where we are today,” Wright said.

Seventeen seconds into the fourth quarter, sophomore utility Genoa Rossi scored the first of what would be four Bruin goals in the last quarter to Arizona State’s two.

When the pool finally settled Saturday afternoon, No. 1 UCLA (10-0, 1-0 MPSF) defeated No. 7 Arizona State (12-2, 0-1) 14-12 at Spieker Aquatics Center.

The last time the two met this season, UCLA beat then-No. 14 Arizona State 13-8 after a 7-1 lead at the half.

This time around, however, both teams stormed out of the gate on offense, notching five goals apiece in the first quarter, before Arizona State recorded three to UCLA’s two to take an 8-7 lead heading into the back half of the game.

Leading the charge for the Sun Devils was attacker Luca Petovary, who recorded a hat trick less than six minutes into the game and ended with seven of her team’s 12 goals.

“Because we’re UCLA, everybody’s going to give us their best games,” said freshman goalkeeper Lauren Steele. “There’s definitely a lot to learn from that first quarter.”

Steele spearheaded the Bruins defensively in the second half, recording eight blocks in the final two frames to finish the game with 10.

Sophomore attacker Taylor Smith highlighted the Bruins’ second-half offense, following up her hat trick in the Bruins’ previous game with a career-high five goals three of which came in the second half.

UCLA’s offense was supplemented by three players– junior attacker Molly Renner, senior attacker Anneliese Miller and sophomore utility Anna Pearson – each recording two-goal performances. Pearson’s second of the game, the Bruins’ 13th, would prove to be the decider.

“It’s about being on the same page as everybody,” Smith said. “The most important part of the game is communication. The outcome just comes as you focus on those little details.”

Smith managed her fifth goal of the day under three minutes after Rossi’s only goal, giving UCLA the first two-goal lead of the affair.

The Bruins will now set their sights on the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at Anteater Aquatics Complex beginning Friday.

“We’ve got to be better,” Wright said. “We owe that to ourselves because that’s what we train for.”

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