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Water Polo NCAA Champs

No. 2 UCLA to Host No. 6 LMU, Compete in SoCal Tournament
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  10/08/2008

Oct. 8, 2008

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LOS ANGELES - The No. 2 UCLA men's water polo team (5-1) faces No. 6 Loyola Marymount (9-5) in a non-conference game Thursday at home, before opening play in the annual SoCal Tournament against Bucknell on Saturday, Oct. 11, at Loyola Marymount.

UCLA will play four games in five days, beginning with its home match against No. 6 Loyola Marymount on Thursday. The Bruins take on Bucknell in the opening round of the SoCal Tournament on Saturday (8 a.m.) at Loyola Marymount's Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center. Later that day, UCLA will play either No. 10 Long Beach State or No. 9 UC San Diego in the tournament's second round.

Loyola Marymount enters Thursday's non-conference game with a 9-5 overall record and rides a four-game win streak. Most recently, the sixth-ranked Lions defeated Harvard, 19-4, at LMU's Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center on Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Bruins finished fourth at the SoCal Tournament one year ago and registered a third-place finish in 2006. UCLA also posted fourth-place finishes in 2005 and 2004. This year's event will be hosted by Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Bruins will play both games at Loyola Marymount on Saturday, and all winners' bracket contests will take place Sunday at Pepperdine.

Senior Krsto Sbutega and junior Chay Lapin have been honored this fall as MPSF Co-Players of the Week. Sbutega earned the accolade after scoring a career-high five goals in UCLA's 10-4 win at UC Irvine (Sept. 13). Lapin captured weekly honors on Monday, after having tied his career high with 15 saves in a 10-4 win against Long Beach State last Saturday (Oct. 4).

UCLA's offensive attack has been led by senior Krsto Sbutega (12 goals) and junior Scott Davidson (10 goals). Both Davidson and Sbutega led the Bruins with 47 and 35 goals, respectively, in 2007. Sbutega logged a career-high five goals in UCLA's season-opening win at UC Irvine and followed that performance with a four-goal game against Pacific in the first round of the NorCal Tournament.

Sophomore Ben Hohl and Jacob Murphy have made significant contributions to the Bruins, six games into the season. Hohl, who scored 27 goals as a true freshman in 2007, has registered seven goals this fall. Murphy has tallied four goals in six games and scored a pair of goals in UCLA's 6-4 victory over then-top-ranked California in the NorCal Tournament.

The Bruins welcome back 13 letterwinners in 2008, including All-America goalkeeper Chay Lapin and two honorable mention All-America selections, senior Krsto Sbutega and junior Scott Davidson. In all, UCLA's roster features three seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores and 11 freshmen (five expected to redshirt). The Bruins' other two seniors - Chris Allen and Russell Simpkins - solidify a defense backed by Lapin, who started 36 games in the cage during his first two seasons at UCLA.

As released on Wednesday, Oct. 8, UCLA has been ranked second in the nation, behind crosstown rival USC. Rounding out the national poll's top five teams are Stanford, Pepperdine and Calfornia. UCLA defeated then-No. 1 California, 6-4, in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament, handing the Bruins their second victory over the country's top-ranked team in as many seasons.

Junior goalkeeper Chay Lapin has recorded 71 saves through the Bruins' first six games, logging 11 saves or more in five matches. At the NorCal Tournament, Lapin made 45 stops in four games, allowing just 4.5 goals per game. Last weekend, Lapin tied his career high with 15 saves in a 10-4 MPSF victory against Long Beach State. A native of Long Beach, Calif., Lapin has averaged 11.8 saves per contest this season.

The Bruins will host five more home matches - four at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and one at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. UCLA faces Stanford (Oct. 18) at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center prior to a football game that afternoon. The Bruins host Loyola Marymount (Oct. 9), Brown (Oct. 19), UC Irvine (Nov. 7) and UC San Diego (Nov. 9) at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

In his 10th season as head coach at UCLA, Adam Krikorian has tallied a 181-55 record. A four-year letterwinner and 1997 UCLA graduate, Krikoriam has been a part of 14 national championships in 16 seasons with the water polo program. As head coach of the men's and women's programs, Krikorian has guided UCLA to 10 national titles (three men's, seven women's). Krikorian led the Bruins to three national titles as an assistant coach and one as a player (1995).

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