Aug. 29, 2005
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - UCLA's men's water polo team begins the defense of its 2004 NCAA crown this weekend against Division II opponents Chaminade and BYU Hawaii at the BYU Hawaii Tournament in Laie, Hawaii. The Bruins will play four contests over three days (two against each team) before returning to host its annual Alumni contest on Saturday, September 10 at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
The entire 2005 schedule features 26 scheduled regular season matches, including four each at the SoCal and NorCal Tournament and eight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests. The 26 regular season matches is the most since the Bruins played 29 contests in 1990 (not including post-season).
UCLA returns 17 letterwinners from last year's championship squad but will face the daunting task of replacing all seven starters. The only non-senior from last year's starting core, Michael March, will redshirt the season after undergoing off-season back surgery. March was injured while competing with the U.S. National Team earlier this summer. The Bruins' lone seniors on the 2005 roster will be center defender David Pietsch and attacker John Blanchette. Blanchette is UCLA's active career steals leader with 27 swipes over three seasons. Junior Logan Powell has contributed the most assists (25) than any other active players while Pietsch leads all active scorers with 36 career goals. In front of the net, a trio of Bruins will vie for the opportunity to replace All-American goalkeeper Joseph Axelrad. Junior Will Didinger, sophomore Matt Kellogg and true freshman Chay Lapin will all battle for minutes at goalkeeper. Didinger is the most experienced of the three with 31 quarters played and 54 total saves under his belt (4.39 goals against average). Kellogg played just one quarter in 2004 as a freshman and recorded two saves. As a high schooler, Lapin led Wilson HS to four consecutive Division I C.I.F. titles and was named the Player of the Year as a senior in 2004. His high school teammate, and fellow Bruin freshman, Scott Swanson was the 2003 Player of the Year.
UCLA's upcoming trip to the BYU-Hawaii Tournament will mark the first time the Bruins have competed across the Pacific since 1994 at the Hawaiian Tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii. In two contests in Hawaii that season, the Bruins defeated UC San Diego (12-10) and Chaminade (14-8). This year's round-robin tournament schedule pits the Bruins against Chaminade at 1 p.m. (HST) and BYU Hawaii at 7 p.m. (HST) on Saturday, September 3. Then on Sunday, September 4, UCLA will face Chaminade for a second time (time TBA) and will conclude the trip with a contest against BYU Hawaii on Monday at 7 p.m. (HST). The Bruins have faced Chaminade just once before in 1994 and have never faced BYU Hawaii. Chaminade went 2-11 in 2004 while BYU Hawaii concluded last year's slate with a 16-4 mark and a fifth-place finish in the Western Water Polo Association.
Those wishing to request interviews with any current UCLA water polo player or coach must contact the UCLA Sports Information office at 310-206-4008. Players and coaches are available after practice Monday-Friday at approximately 5