Nov. 26, 2001
NCAA FINAL FOUR: The UCLA men's water polo team travels to Stanford's Avery Aquatic Complex to compete in the 2001 NCAA Collegiate Championship.
Saturday, December 1
Stanford (20-1) vs. Massachusetts (28-5), 1 p.m.
UCLA (15-4) vs. Loyola Marymount (14-13), 30 minutes after
Sunday, December 2
Third-Place Match, 1 p.m.
National Championship Match, 30 minutes after
UCLA, two-time defending NCAA champion, is in the Final Four for the third consecutive year. The last time UCLA reached three straight Final Fours was 1994-96. The Bruins have won seven NCAA men's water polo titles, trailing only California (11) and Stanford (eight).
UCLA ALL-TIME vs. OPPONENTS: LMU 8-0 (1-0 this season), UMass 3-0 (0-0), Stanford 52-61 (0-3)
UCLA vs. LMU: The Bruins dispatched the Lions in the teams' only previous meeting this season, winning 9-4 on Sept. 22. Driver Matt Flesher (Jr., Diamond Bar/Brea Olinda) registered a hat trick and Albert Garcia (So., Long Beach/Wilson) added two goals. Goalkeeper Brandon Brooks (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou) had one of his best outings of the season with 10 saves.
LMU is led by junior goalkeeper Kevin Paulsen, the WWPA's Most Valuable Player. Freshman Stephen Lipinski leads the team in scoring
UCLA vs. STANFORD: Entering last weekend's MPSF Tournament, the top-ranked Cardinal was the only team to defeat the Bruins. Stanford has won all three meetings this season - Sept. 30 at Westwood (10-6), Oct. 14 in the NorCal Tournament final (7-4), and Oct. 27 at Stanford (8-3).
Freshman phenom Tony Azevado, the leading candidate for Player of the Year honors, has scored eight times against UCLA. Azevado led the MPSF with 64 goals in 21 matches.
LAST WEEKEND: UCLA opened the MPSF tournament by squeezing past UCSB 3-1 in the lowest-scoring match in tournament history. The Bruin defense had its best performance since a 12-1 victory over Pacific on Sept. 24, 2000.
In the semifinals, California continued its Cinderella ride through the tournament by defeating UCLA 9-7. Ormsby, Flesher, and senior two-meter Alfonso Tucay (Burbank/Burroughs) each scored a pair of goals. The Golden Bears ran off four unanswered goals in the second half to go ahead for good.
In the match for third place, the Bruins bolstered its NCAA hopes with a 7-6 overtime victory over Long Beach State. UCLA fell behind 4-2 midway through the third period before roaring back with three straight scores. Nick Pacelli (So., Orange/Villa Park) started the comeback by burying a rebound of his own shot. Ormsby tied the match by taking an outlet pass from Brooks and scoring from six meters out. Then UCLA seized the lead when Dan Yeilding (Jr., San Clemente) scored three minutes into the fourth quarter.
The 49ers responded with a goal from Trevor Wawezynski to send the match to overtime. Flesher put the Bruins ahead in the first extra session with a power-play goal, but Nathan Allard responded with a tip-in with 17 seconds remaining.
The winning penalty shot was drawn by Tucay and Ormsby's conversion proved to be the difference, as neither team scored in the second overtime.
HEAD COACH ADAM KRIKORIAN-Krikorian is in his first season alone at the helm of the men's team and his third season overall as a Head Coach. He owns a career men's record of 56-14 (21-3 MPSF) which includes two national championship seasons as Co-Head Coach with Guy Baker, the current U.S. Women's National Team mentor. Krikorian has also won two national championships in three years as the head coach of UCLA's women's team, posting a 72-19 record (23-5 MPSF).
Krikorian also won the NCAA title in his senior season in 1995 and was an assistant to Baker for the 1996 men's and 1997 women's national title teams.
JUNIOR GOALKEEPER BRANDON BROOKS-Statistically the best netminder in UCLA history, Brooks looks for a third NCAA ring in as many seasons. He has put up All-America numbers this season, compiling a goals-against average of 5.90 playing all but six quarters in 19 matches. Brooks has saved nearly 60 percent of opponents' shots on goal in 2001 (152 of 259). He owns the best career GAA in UCLA history at 5.35 and was named a first-team All-American in 2000 after posting a school-record low 4.80 GAA. The Bruins have a record of 43-12 when Brooks has started in net (including four forfeits from last season that UCLA had originally won).
FRESHMAN DRIVER BRETT ORMSBY-Ormsby is one of three frosh in this year's Final Four to lead their team in scoring (along with Azevado and Lipinski). Ormsby was fifth in the conference in goals per match (2.00) entering the conference tournament. Six of his 38 goals this season have come from the penalty line, including the game-winning goal against Long Beach State on Sunday. Ormsby is one of three Bruins, along with Brooks and backup goalie Joseph Axelrad (Fr., Studio City/Harvard-Westlake), who competed for the U.S. Junior National Team at the Junior World Championships last August in Turkey.
THE SENIOR CLASS-The bulk of the contribution of UCLA's three seniors has come this season. Jeff Pflueger (Dr., Santa Ana/Foothill), Jon Puffer (Dr., El Segundo), and Tucay had combined for just 31 goals in their first three years. Tucay has been the workhorse at the two-meter spot, scoring 28 times and drawing a team-high 35 ejections. Pflueger has 15 goals and is tied for the team lead with 22 steals. He also scored twice in last year's NCAA title game against UC San Diego. Puffer has started all but one match as a defense-oriented driver and scored the first goal in the third-place match against the 49ers.