Third-ranked and undefeated UCLA travels to the Stanford Invitational women’s water polo tournament this weekend to face its stiffest competition of the 2014 season.
Waiting for the Bruins on Saturday and Sunday is a trio of ranked teams, all hungry for a better slot in the national polls.
UCLA (8-0) meets No. 16 Michigan (1-1) on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. at Stanford’s Belardi Pool. At 4:45 p.m., the Bruins will battle fourth-ranked California (6-0) at Avery Stadium in a much-anticipated match-up featuring two of the country’s highest scoring teams. On Sunday at the Belardi Pool, UCLA completes bracket play with a 9:10 a.m. game against No. 14 San Jose State (7-2).
Based on results of its first three matches, UCLA will advance to play for fifth, third or first place later Sunday afternoon.
“We embrace the opportunity to play against the best, but we’ve got to earn that right to advance first out of our bracket,” Head Coach Brandon Brooks told the Daily Bruin this week. “Michigan first, Cal second, San Jose third -- you have to get through the first one.”
Michigan senior driver Aubrie Pratt, older sister of UCLA sophomore Charlotte Pratt, is one of the Wolverines’ top scorers with three goals and three assists. Michigan split two games at its opening tournament against Iona (W) and Indiana (L). The Wolverines play today at Santa Clara.
Freshman Dora Anta from Hungary leads the Golden Bears with 25 goals in six games. Antal has already received MPSF Newcomer of the Week and Player of the Week laurels.
Spain’s Clara Espar paces San Jose State with a conference-leading 32 goals in nine games. The Spartans boast a 9-8 victory against UC Santa Barbara last weekend.
The Bruins have relied on a balanced offensive attack and a deep bench in their first eight games. Junior Emily Donohoe and sophomore Alys Williams lead UCLA with 16 goals each. Four other players have totaled double-digit goals, and five more have scored five or more goals. The Bruins have scored 123 goals (15.3 gpg). Redshirt junior goalkeeper Sami Hill is allowing less than four goals per game and has recorded 47 saves.
To access the complete 2014 UCLA women’s water polo schedule click here.