Nov. 16, 2005
This Week at the Pool:
The fifth-ranked UCLA men's water polo team (18-6, 4-2) hosts its final two matches of the regular season this weekend at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. The Bruins will put their 20-match home winning streak on the line against cross-town rival No. 1 USC (20-1, 7-0) on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m., and No. 8 Pacific (18-10, 2-4) on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. in two crucial MPSF Conference matches.
UCLA opened the first of a two-match set for the week at No. 6 UC Irvine on Thursday. The Bruins lost a tough match to the Anteaters, 7-8, giving up the game-winning goal with 40 seconds left in the final period.
UCLA received goals from seven different players and junior goalkeeper Will Didinger tallied a game-high seven saves in the losing effort.
The Bruins would rebound from the loss on Saturday, with a 7-5 victory over No. 5 Pepperdine at home. The win extended UCLA's home winning streak to 20 matches, as freshman Krsto Sbutega led the way with three goals scored. Didinger finished with seven saves.
About the Trojans:
The top-ranked USC Trojans (20-1, 7-0) enter this week's action riding a current 13-match winning streak. The Trojans' last loss came at Pepperdine on Oct. 1 in a 5-4 decision. During their current 13-game winning streak, the Trojans have won six of the matches by only one goal, and the other seven by four or more goals, including five of those matches by six or more goals. USC is led by senior Juraj Zatovic who has 60 goals on the season.
About the Tigers:
The No. 8 Pacific Tigers (18-10, 2-4) enter Sunday's contest winners of eight of their last nine matches, with their only loss (11-4) coming at home against USC last Sunday. Pacific travels to Pepperdine on Saturday before taking on the Bruins on Sunday. The Tigers have posted seven or more goals in 13 of their last 14 matches, reaching double-digits in goals six times during that span. Sophomore Dragan Babic leads the team with 46 goals scored, as the Tigers have six players with 20 or more goals scored on the season.
Obviously, there is no love loss between UCLA and USC. Saturday's match will mark the 126th meeting between the two schools in men's water polo, with the Bruins owning a 68-56-1 advantage over the Trojans. UCLA has won six of the last seven matches against USC, including a season sweep of the Trojans last year. UCLA also holds a 24-3 series advantage over Pacific, and hasn't lost to the Tigers since 1996.
Get Those Points:
The UCLA-USC showdown on Saturday will count towards the Lexus Gauntlet, a competition that pits the two schools against each other in 18 sports with the winners of each contest receiving points for their victory. The victor of Saturday's water polo contest will earn its respective school five Lexus Gauntlet points. This year's series is currently tied at 10-10.
10+ = W:
So far this season, the Bruins are unbeatable when scoring 10 or more goals in a contest. UCLA is 9-0 on the season when reaching the double-digit goal plateau. This trend is consistent with the past few years, as UCLA is 34-0 since the beginning of the 2003 season when scoring double-digit goals against the opposition.
UCLA has been the victim of slim defeats this season - all six of the Bruins' losses have been by only one goal. UCLA owns a 3-6 record this season in matches decided by one goal.
UCLA has found a variety of scoring options offensively. A total of 18 different Bruins have scored goals so far this season, including 12 different scorers that have posted 12 or more goals on the year. Senior David Pietsch leads all players with 36 goals scored. So far this season, UCLA has had five or more players score goals in a match 19 times, and owns a 16-3 record when doing so. UCLA has also outscored the opposition 246-131, and is third in the MPSF in scoring with a 10.25 goal-per-game average.
UCLA seems to have a knack at jumping out to fast starts against the opposition. In 24 matches this season, the Bruins have outscored opponents 41-24 in the first period, and by an impressive 47-21 mark in the second period. However, the Bruins have experienced some trouble closing opponents out in the second half. In UCLA's six losses, the Bruins either led (four times) or were tied (twice) at halftime before being outscored in the second half.
A Look Ahead:
UCLA will compete at the 2005 MPSF Conference Championships Friday, Nov. 25 - Sunday, Nov. 27 at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium.