September 1, 1998
Opening the 1998 Campaign: After a productive off-season, head coach Guy Baker's Bruins are anxious to kick off their season, which begins this weekend with a scrimmage tournament hosted by defending national champion Pepperdine. UCLA has high expectations for itself this year, and will have an opportunity to gauge its status and talent with matches on September 5 against Loyola Marymount (9:30 a.m.), Pepperdine (11:30 a.m.) and UC Santa Barbara (2:30 p.m.). These games, being scrimmages, will not be included in the squad's won-lost record.
UCLA's first official game of '98 will be September 12 versus UC Irvine at Heritage Park. The Anteaters are an experienced team that is expected to be successful this season, and the Bruins are looking forward to meeting up with their MPSF rival. The following weekend, Sept. 18-19, UCLA will travel to Newport Beach to participate in the annual Southern California Tournament.
Top Returning Players: The senior trio of Sam Grayeli, Aaron Harries and Eric Helfer look to lead the young Bruins back to the national playoff picture. Helfer (5-11, 185, Honolulu HI) is a crucial part of the Bruins' speed and defense, while Harries (6-4, 200, Anaheim) makes key contributions to UCLA's defense in the hole. Grayeli's (6-0, 170, Costa Mesa) scoring capabilities will be of critical importance to UCLA's offense. All-American sophomores Sean Kern (6-6, 215, Honolulu HI) and Adam Wright (6-2, 175, Seal Beach) are expected to show more consistency this season, and build on their successful freshmen statistics. Junior goalkeeper Parsa Bonderson (6-2, 185, Santa Barbara) had an excellent off-season and is very comfortable with his spot in the cage. Bonderson, an Academic All-American, looks to increase his career saves total of 166.
In addition, the Bruins are looking for big things from sophomores Blake Wellen (6-4, 190, Mill Valley), Dave Parker (6-8, 200, Orinda), Andy Bailey (6- 2, 185, San Clemente) and Brian Brown (6-0, 175, Santa Ana). Newport Beach juniors Neil Hueston (5-8, 155) and James Palda (6-1, 180) are also expected to contribute significantly to UCLA's offense.
'98 Season Outlook: "Potential" is the key word surrounding UCLA at the start of this season. On paper, the Bruins have size, speed, leadership and experience, and Baker believes the squad can be successful if it plays as a team, on both offense and defense. The weekend scrimmage tournament at Pepperdine marks the first opportunity to measure the Bruins in the pool.