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No. 3 UCLA Men's Water Polo Set for NorCal Tournament

Sept. 13, 2011

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LOS ANGELES - The No. 3 UCLA men's water polo team plays at the NorCal Tournament this weekend. The Bruins (2-0) face Air Force on Saturday at 10:40 a.m. at Delta College's June Fergusson Pool in Stockton, Calif. The winner of the match will play either UC Santa Barbara or Concordia that afternoon at 5:20 p.m., also at Delta College. Regardless of Saturday's outcome, all teams will play two games on Sunday.

2011 NorCal Tournament
Sept. 17-18, hosted by University of Pacific

No. 20 Air Force (2-2) vs. No. 3 UCLA (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 17 - 10:40 a.m.
at Delta College's June Fergusson Pool

UC Santa Barbara/Concordia vs. UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 17 - time TBD
at Delta College's June Fergusson Pool

Two games, opponents and times TBD
Sunday, Sept. 18

Who's Back for UCLA in 2011?
UCLA returns 14 letterwinners from its 2010 team, after having lost seven significant contributors (five seniors). Three of last year's top five scorers are back. Cristiano Mirarchi ranked second with 35 goals, Josh Samuels third with 27 and Griffin White fifth with 25. Team captain Cullen Hennessy registered 21 goals. All three of last year's goalkeepers return (James Hartshorne, Andrew Mesesan, Matt Rapacz), in addition to redshirt freshman Stephen White.

Bruins Record Pair of Early Wins
Hosting the day-long UCLA Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 3, the Bruins recorded a pair of regular-season victories against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (22-2) and La Verne (19-5). UCLA received a team-leading nine goals from freshman David Culpan that day (four vs. CMS, five vs. La Verne). The Bruins' other top scorers on the day included Brett Hays (6), Alex Johnson (6) and Lucas Reynolds (5). All four goalkeepers played one quarter in each contest. The Bruins opened their season by outscoring the opposition, 41-7.

Trio of Seniors to Lead Bruins
UCLA's roster features three seniors, five juniors, eight sophomores and 10 freshman (not including freshman who will likely redshirt). Seniors Brett Hays, Cullen Hennessy and Andrew Mesesan are the Bruins' most veteran players. Over the last three years, Hays has tallied 33 goals on 72 attempts and 70 earned exclusions. Hennessy has totaled 58 goals on 157 attempts, 45 assists, 41 steals and 34 earned exclusions. Mesesan has logged 73 saves and a 7.73 goals against average in 17 matches.

Five Return from Junior Worlds
Junior Josh Samuels, sophomore Chris Wendt and freshman Alex Wherry competed at the Junior World Championships earlier this month for the USA Junior National Team (ninth place). Sophomore Aimone Barabino and Cristiano Mirarchi played for the Italian Junior National Team (fifth place) at the week-long event in Volos, Greece. All five UCLA players were competing at the Junior World Championships through Labor Day weekend and did not return to the Bruins until after the UCLA Invitational on Sept. 3

Recent Tournament History
UCLA has advanced to the finals in three of the last four in-season tournaments (NorCal, SoCal Tournaments). In 2009, UCLA lost to Stanford in the NorCal Tournament finals. In 2010, the Bruins dropped one-goal decisions to USC at the SoCal and NorCal Tournaments. UCLA won the 2009 MPSF Tournament, finished second at the 2009 NCAA Tournament and finished fourth at the 2010 MPSF Tournament.

UCLA's Schedule Breakdown
The Bruins will play five more matches at home this fall, including key MPSF showdowns against California (Oct. 7), Pacific (Nov. 4), USC (Nov. 18) and UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 19). UCLA has nine games scheduled on the road that will not be tournament contests. The Bruins' next home match is against Pepperdine on Friday, Sept. 23.

Hennessy Serves as Team Captain
Fifth-year senior Cullen Hennessy will lead UCLA as its team captain in 2011. Hennessy, a resident of Fairfax, Calif., has been a significant contributor in each of this previous three seasons. Last season, he started 23 matches, totaling 21 goals, 13 assists and 11 steals. As a sophomore in 2009, Hennessy scored 23 goals and led UCLA with 27 assists, leading the team to the championship match at the NCAA Tournament. He scored 14 goals in 24 games as a freshman in 2008.

Wright on Deck for Year Three
The Bruins are led by third-year head coach Adam Wright, who has compiled a 44-13 record as the program's head coach. Wright played at UCLA from 1997-2000, helping lead the Bruins to NCAA Championships in 1999 and 2000. He played for the USA National Team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, leading Team USA to a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing. Wright has played for the National Team in every major international tournament since 2001.

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Fans can receive in-game updates of UCLA's home games in addition to weekly news and other updates about the UCLA men's and women's water polo programs on Twitter (UCLAWaterPolo).

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