According to the scoreboard there was no letdown from the Santa Clara Bruins against Milpitas on Tuesday. After playing seven games the previous week and winning a tournament in Watsonville, the Bruins water polo team still managed to pummel the Milpitas Trojans 16-2. If you ask Head Coach Aja Bumbaca, though, the team could have actually done a better job executing their offense.
“Coming into this game I said ‘listen, we’re going to play our game and execute our offense,’” recalled the head coach. “But what happened the first two quarters, we were sluggish, we weren’t reacting.”
Medhya Sundher, who scored one of the early goals for the Bruins on a penalty shot, agreed with her coach that things could have been better, despite the lopsided win.
“We weren’t communicating really, it was kind of a low energy game, we could have been more intense,” noted Sundher. “We were a little bit tired and so everything looked a little bit lazy. A lot of our shots hit the bar that should have gone in, so we weren’t as focused as we should have been.”
One of the most focused players in the pool for the Bruins was freshman Niya Bumbaca, who, as a lefty shooter, gives Santa Clara a dynamic that most teams don’t have.
The younger Bumbaca says an injury to her right hand as a toddler forced her to start using her left hand more often. Eventually, she started throwing a softball as a lefty, and developed into now being a natural left-handed thrower.
“It’s pretty nice,” noted Niya Bumbaca on being able to throw with her left hand. “Teams don’t really know how to guard lefties either.”
“We haven’t had a lefty for a couple years, so the fact that she is on her strong side is really nice, not many teams have that,” added coach Bumbaca on her daughter. “Goalies aren’t trained to block that side very often, that’s why it’s an advantage. She’s been playing for a long time; we’ve known for a while that when she got here, she would be an asset with her arm and her speed.”
Niya Bumbaca may only be a freshman, but along with Sundher, Emily Wood and Clara Sim, the Bruins have scoring threats outside of their top two stars in seniors Mariah Walker and Kat Peak. While Walker and Peak each scored multiple goals against Milpitas, it was a wide range of players that helped the total reach 16.
That depth scoring will become very important as the team attempts to not only win league, but make a run in the CCS playoffs. For now, the victory over Milpitas improves the Bruins league record to 4-1. Their lone loss came against Harker in a 10-9 thriller.
Next up on the schedule for the Bruins is Monta Vista on Thursday, Sept. 26. They will get a rematch against Harker on Tuesday, Oct. 8.