Oct. 16, 2001
UCLA THIS WEEK: Second-ranked UCLA (8-2, 3-0 MPSF) meets fifth-ranked California (8-2, 2-1) in a pivotal Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's water polo match Saturday at 3 p.m. The match will be held at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, which is located adjacent to the site of Saturday night's UCLA-Cal football game. The Bruins are tied with Stanford for the MPSF's top spot at 3-0, with Cal sitting a game behind in third place.
LAST WEEKEND: The Bruins reeled off three consecutive wins at the 15-team NorCal Tournament at Stanford before falling to the host school in the championship match. UCLA won its qualifying group on Saturday with a 13-5 decision over Air Force and a 10-8 overtime victory over Long Beach State. Alfonso Tucay (Sr., Burbank/Burroughs) recorded a pair of three-goal performances, including the game-winner in overtime against the 49ers. Earlier, eight different Bruins scored against the Falcons and backup goalkeeper Joe Axelrad (Fr., Studio City/Harvard-Westlake) recorded his first career victory in the UCLA net.
UCLA advanced to the final with a 9-8 win over USC on Sunday, the Bruins' second win over the Trojans in nine days. Sophomore driver Albert Garcia (Long Beach/Wilson) scored three times and junior goalkeeper Brandon Brooks (Honolulu, HI/Punahou) repelled three USC shots in the final 1:20 to preserve the victory. Garcia had a team-high nine goals in the tournament.
In the final, UCLA limited Stanford standout freshman Tony Azevado to just two goals, his lowest output this season. But the Cardinal defense stifled the Bruins' attack and allowed just one goal in the second half, leading to a 7-4 Stanford win. Four different Bruins hit the mark against Cardinal goalie Nick Ellis.
UCLA vs. CAL: Cal finished fifth at the NorCal Tournament. A win over Cal Baptist (10-6) and a loss to third-ranked Pepperdine (7-5) left the Bears second in its qualifying group. On Sunday, Cal throttled UC Irvine 11-4, then claimed fifth place with a 13-7 decision over Long Beach State. Attila Benhidy, a sophomore from Hungary, led Cal with 11 goals in the tournament
The Golden Bears have won more NCAA men's water polo titles (11) than any other school, yet UCLA leads the all-time series 60-46-1. The Bruins took three of four meetings last season, including a 6-5 victory in the MPSF Tournament final that gave the Bruins an automatic berth to the NCAA Final Four. Cal head coach Peter Asch sports a 39-21 career record over three seasons, but is just 1-6 against Bruin coach Adam Krikorian.
BRUIN STATS: Freshman Brett Ormsby (El Cajon/Valhalla) continues to lead the club with 23 goals. Tucay and Garcia follow with 16 and 14 goals, respectively ... Two-meter defender Matt Flesher (Jr., Diamond Bar/Brea Olinda) has a team-best 11 assists ... Brooks' goals-against average stands at 5.97 ... UCLA is just 5-10 all-time at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, including two wins last season.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford, UCLA, Pepperdine, USC, and California were the top five in last week's American Water Polo Coaches' Association poll ...The rankings are published at 2 p.m. Pacific every Wednesday during the regular season and can be viewed at www.collegiatewaterpolo.com.