Men’s water polo win streak stays afloat after standout freshman performances

Freshman attacker Ashworth Molthen logged two goals and seven assists in both games Saturday afternoon. The lefty has seen action in every game so far this season. (Michael Zshornack/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Multiple freshmen helped keep the Bruins’ undefeated record intact.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (11-0) defeated No. 10 Pepperdine (6-3) and Loyola Marymount (2-5) in a doubleheader at Spieker Aquatics Center on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins won 16-10 against the Waves and 14-8 over the Lions.

Freshman attacker Jake Cavano finished with five goals in what was his first collegiate game in Westwood and registered nine across both games.

Cavano said he felt the opposing teams were giving him the space to shoot and he just took the chances when they were presented.

“It seemed like they were leaving me,” Cavano said. “I stepped in and saw my opportunities. … Everyone’s trying to be that fire for the group, so I just feel like I’m fitting in.”

UCLA got off to an early 5-1 lead within five minutes over Pepperdine, with Cavano scoring 23 seconds into the game. The freshman and sophomore attacker Nicolas Saveljic both netted a hat trick by the end of the first half.

UCLA shot 12-of-14 from the field in the first half. Pepperdine’s goalkeeper John Claude Marco did not register a save in that time frame.

The Bruins held a 12-4 advantage going in to the third quarter. However, UCLA could only convert once in the period, and the Waves scored four unanswered goals to cut the deficit to five with 5:42 remaining in the game.

UCLA was outscored 6-4 in the second half. Coach Adam Wright said the team needs to work on its consistency and that his team’s focus started to waver once they had a big lead.

“We’re trying to create a consistent mentality,” Wright said. “The score doesn’t matter. It was disappointing because we changed our approach a little bit, and you can’t do that.”

Wright said he was impressed with Cavano’s play during the day. He said that even though Cavano is a freshman, his energy should be used as an example for the rest of the team.

“The thing that I like most is his energy,” Wright said. “He’s going out there and playing every minute with a great amount of intensity. That’s why he’s putting himself in position to be successful.”

Against LMU, UCLA again scored within the first minute of game time. Sophomore utility Evan Rosenfeld started the scoring for the Bruins after 27 seconds.

UCLA went into halftime up 5-1, thanks to two goals each from senior attacker Austin Rone and Cavano.

UCLA’s defense allowed four goals in the third quarter, but the Bruins extended their lead with six of their own in the frame. Redshirt junior center Raphael Raede added a second half hat trick to help the Bruins hold off the Lions.

Freshman attacker Ashworth Molthen finished with two goals and seven assists on the day. He said getting his teammates easy goal-scoring opportunities is part of his plan to help the team go on offensive runs.

“I loved feeding my teammates,” Molthen said. “We’ve all got to play together in order to win. I try my best to open up the pool for everybody. “

The Bruins play again Friday at No. 6 Long Beach State (6-2), followed by a home game Saturday versus No. 12 UC Irvine (4-4).

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