The tired phrase, “it’s just another game,” is spoken far too often by athletes who are trained to look at each upcoming game objectively.
However, in Saturday’s home matchup against the No. 4 UCLA Bruins — a team the Women of Troy drubbed 13-3 Feb. 7 — the cliché simply does not apply.
At 4:30 p.m., star seniors goalie Tumua Anae, two-meter Kami Craig, utility Forel Davies and drivers Alexandra Kiss and Kally Lucas will square off against UCLA in McDonald’s Swim Stadium for the last time.
This rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game won by the Bruins offers the women’s water polo team an opportunity to post its first consecutive wins over UCLA since 2006. Fresh in the seniors’ minds are the struggles they have experienced against a historically strong UCLA team over the past four years.
“Having lost to them in the finals twice and in the semifinals [during my career], we’re definitely fired up,” Lucas said.
The Women of Troy know they will face a determined UCLA team looking for revenge after being embarrassed at this year’s Stanford Invitational. Although UCLA graduated many prominent players from its 2009 championship squad, its women’s water polo team remains a powerhouse, noted for its swimming speed.
However, as is the case in all their games, Lucas and the Women of Troy are much more concerned about their play than the other team’s. If they execute and play up to their potential, it does not matter who is in the pool.
“Putting shots in the cage is what it comes down to,” Lucas said. “Against them in the finals last year, we missed too many shots and went something like 4-for-38.”
Indeed, capitalizing on scoring chances and finishing shots has been a focus for Jovan Vavic and his team throughout the season.
When asked if she had any hopes for her final home game, Lucas smiled and paused for a moment.
“We want to dominate,” Lucas said. “It’s exciting to play them. I can’t wait to play in front of my friends and family one last time.”
In a season in which these five seniors have contributed an incalculable amount to the team’s success, it seems only fitting and inevitable that the Women of Troy will accomplish the one feat these seniors have yet to realize: beating the Bruins twice in a row.