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UCLA womens water polo defeats Biola with most goals scored of the year

Freshman center Dania Innis holds her arm up to block the ball for UCLA women’s water polo. (Ilan Berdy/Daily Bruin)

Women's Water Polo

No. 1 UCLA23

By Una O'Farrell

March 10, 2024 3:02 p.m.

This post was updated March 10 at 10:36 p.m.

The Bruins found their sweet spot in the center this weekend, breaking records against their newfound opponent.

No. 1 UCLA women’s water polo (16-0, 2-0 MPSF) defeated Biola (6-12) on Saturday with its highest number of goals scored this season in a 23-4 victory at Spieker Aquatics Center.

The Bruins limited the Eagles to only one goal off of a penalty through the first three quarters, compared to their own 18.

In UCLA’s first-ever matchup against Biola, freshman utility Natasha Kieckhafer said the team’s lead benefitted their ability to grow as a team.

“Every game is an opportunity for every player to go out and do the best they can do and show who they can be,” Kieckhafer said. “I feel like this game was good specifically because we were never in a position where we couldn’t give everybody an opportunity.”

Sophomore utility Anna Pearson found quick success in the center, scoring the first two goals of the game and earning an exclusion all within the first minute of the match.

Freshman center Dania Innis racked up a career-high five goals, including a natural hat trick in the fourth quarter alone.

“That was our goal for the second half, to work from the center, so I’m happy that I could put the ball away,” Innis said. “We noticed that our opponent was pressing a lot, so we were able to take advantage of that and get the ball into the center every time, which then led to either exclusions or goals.”

Biola struggled offensively in all four quarters, failing to convert all nine of its powerplay opportunities.

Kieckhafer, who contributed her own hat trick while tying her career-high in goals, said the team remained steady throughout the game.

“We’ve been really trying to stay consistent lately for all four quarters,” Kieckhafer said. “I feel like it was a really good game for us because we kept the same pace from the first quarter to the fourth.”

UCLA was able to utilize the depth of its roster against Biola, with 12 different players contributing to the team’s combined 23 goals, and each quarter seeing the introduction of a different goalkeeper.

The four goalkeepers made 15 saves across the contest.

“This was a great opportunity for us to really work on our depth as well and get a lot of people minutes,” said coach Adam Wright. “Getting a lot of players reps that don’t usually get them all the time was really great as well.”

Despite back-to-back goals from utility Maria Roldan Gonzalez, the Eagles were never able to recover from the Bruins’ early lead, leading to the team’s 16th straight win in their undefeated season.

(Ilan Berdy/Daily Bruin)
UCLA football coach DeShaun Foster leads members of UCLA women’s water polo in an eight clap after its game against Biola. (Ilan Berdy/Daily Bruin)

Incoming football coach DeShaun Foster stopped by the match to support the Bruins, leading the team in an 8-clap post-victory.

“DeShaun and I go way back, we were in school together,” Wright said. “For him to come up, and also Durell Price, who played when I was here, means a lot. For them to take an hour out of their day to come up and support our program is pretty awesome for the team. We’re gonna support them the same way.”

The Bruins will continue their lineup of home games against No. 8 Princeton and No. 17 San Jose State next weekend.

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Una O'Farrell
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