Aug. 29, 2001
Kicking Off The 2001 Season: Two-time defending national champion UCLA will tune up for the upcoming season at the annual Wasko Tournament on the campus of Pepperdine University on Saturday. Equivalent to a high school athletic jamboree, the tournament will not count toward regular-season records and no statistics will be kept. The event represents the first chance for Head Coach Adam Krikorian and his staff to evaluate his players' progress, most of whom lack significant game experience.
UCLA Season Outlook: Krikorian begins his first season alone at the helm of the men's team. While the 2000 Bruins were loaded with six senior starters in the field (accounting for 183 of the team's 272 goals), the 2001 squad is relatively inexperienced. In all, only 10 of 19 letterwinners return from the side that routed UC San Diego 11-2 in last year's NCAA title game.
The bulk of the experience is on the defensive side of the pool. First-team All-American Brandon Brooks (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou), arguably the nation's best collegiate goalkeeper (4.80 goals-against average in 2000), is on pace to break all of UCLA's netminder records.
"Our defense can be more aggressive and more creative because Brandon is so solid in net," Krikorian said at Monday's Olympic Sports media luncheon at Pauley Pavilion.
Matt Flesher (Jr., Diamond Bar, CA/Brea Olinda) will be the primary two-meter defender. Flesher will serve as the team's emotional magnet in and out of the pool, according to Krikorian. Flesher is also a scoring threat from outside, piling up 32 goals last season as a part-time starter.
The greatest fight for playing time comes in the middle of the pool. Returning drivers Jon Puffer (Sr., El Segundo/El Segundo HS), Jeff Pflueger (Sr., Santa Ana/Foothill HS), and Albert Garcia (So., Long Beach/Wilson HS) combined for just 33 goals as reserves a year ago. Their ascension to the starting lineup will be contested by freshman phenoms Brett Ormsby (El Cajon/Valhalla HS) and Josh Hewko (San Clemente/ San Clemene HS)
Up front, two-meter man Alfonso Tucay (Sr., Burbank/Burroughs HS) will start the year as the inside presence of the attack, with Brian Estes (Jr., Novato/Novato HS) and Ted Peck (Fr., Irvine/University) waiting in the wings.
Up Next For the Bruins: UCLA's quest for a three-peat begins Saturday, Sept. 8 with a non-conference match against UC Irvine. The game will be held on campus at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and begins at noon