Undefeated UCLA hopes to continue smooth sailing through Pacific, UC Davis games

Sophomore center Quinten Osborne is the only Bruin to have scored in all 13 games this year. Osborne has logged 27 total goals so far. (Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)

The Bruins will put their undefeated record on the line with two top-10 matchups this weekend.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (13-0) will face No. 6 Pacific (5-4) and No. 8 UC Davis (7-3) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in Northern California.

The Bruins went 3-0 against the Tigers last season, winning by a combined margin of 32 to 28. However, all three matchups took place in Los Angeles, while this year’s game will be played in Stockton.

Both Pacific and UC Davis have faced two of the UCLA’s main rivals – No. 1 USC (12-0) and No. 4 California (10-1). The Tigers and Aggies are a combined 0-5 against those two opponents this season.

Pacific has been outscored 32-24 in their three games against the top-4 teams so far this season. The Aggies have lost 13-10 against the Golden Bears and 16-9 versus the Trojans this year.

While coach Adam Wright’s team has yet to lose this season, he said the team needs to learn to play at full intensity consistently.

“Last week, we had to make a couple of stops (against Long Beach State),” Wright said. “They were able to make the adjustments we were trying to make the previous quarters. When our intensity is up, our focus is much better. But it’s got to become more consistent.”

Sophomore center Quinten Osborne has scored a goal in every game so far this season, with a team-high of 27. Osborne said his teammates are the reason he has scored at that rate that he has.

“Our coach is always emphasizing that he doesn’t care who scores,” Osborne said. “We’ve been working very hard to work for each other. I think it’s a testament to how selfless my teammates are in making those opportunities available.”

The new faces on the team have also continued to make an impact this season. Freshmen attackers Jake Cavano and Ashworth Molthen and goalie Danny Roland have all been given the playing time to allow themselves to comfortably come into a team coming off a national title.

“The majority (of the players) are younger and still growing,” Wright said. “We have to understand that there will be some growing pains. There’s also expectations, whether you’re a first-year, second-year or a fifth-year. There’s a standard we try to hold here.”

Molthen is leading all freshmen in scoring with 17 goals on the season. He said the transition from high school to college is a big one, but after practicing and learning the Bruins’ playstyle, he has scored in all but two games this year.

“Everyone is a lot better here,” Molthen said. “The system is pretty hard to follow, but it’s been good so far. I’ve just been trying to go with it. (Pacific and UC Davis) will be really hard games. But we’re expected to just follow what we need to do and we’ll be fine.”

Wright noted that the atmosphere at the Tigers’ stadium provides an additional challenge to his team, as his players can become fazed if they are not confident. He also said UCLA is looking forward to facing Pacific, a team that boasts versatile pieces all over the pool.

“They’re a very well-coached team,” Wright said. “They have a good goalie, they have great left-handers, they have several players that are interchangeable. Their team is heavily supported. The fans try to do a really good job playing a factor.”

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2018/09/28/undefeated-ucla-hopes-to-continue-smooth-sailing-through-pacific-uc-davis-games/
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