April 4, 2007
The UCLA women's water polo team (19-1, 8-0) is on a nine game winning streak entering this weekend's MPSF match with the Women of Troy (14-3, 7-1). The last time these two teams met, the Bruins won 11-10 in the championship match of the Stanford Invitational.
Last year, UCLA defeated USC in the NCAA championship game by a score of 9-8. Then-sophomore Courtney Mathewson scored the game-winning goal with :01 left in the game to clinch the Bruin's second national title in two years. UCLA is 28-12 all-time against the Trojans. USC has been the only team to score in double digits against the Bruins since 2001. They did it once this season, once last year, and once in 2004.
UCLA has the most prolific offense and most stifling defense in the country. The Bruins average a nation-best 15.45 goals per game, while only allowing 5.15 goals against per game (also No. 1 in the nation). They are the top team in the country in average goal margin (10.3 per game). On the year; the team has outscored their opponents 309-103 overall, and 183-39 in the first half.
The offense is led by the 2006 Player of the Year, Senior Kelly Rulon. Rulon has scored 52 goals on the year, six of which came last week against LMU. The six goals set the all-time UCLA single-game scoring record. She is currently 16 goals away from tying the all-time UCLA scoring record of 235. Current assistant coach Coralie Simmons holds the record. She could potentially break the single-season UCLA scoring record (74) also held by Simmons. Kelly needs 23 more goals to overtake the record. There are four regular season games left on the schedule, as well as the MPSF and NCAA tournaments.
The Bruin attack is very balanced. Nine of the fourteen field players have scored at least 20 goals this year, and every field player has scored at least eight goals. Everybody on the team has logged at least 135 minutes played this season. 131 of the 309 goals scored have been assisted. Kelly Rulon leads the team with 43 assists. The Bruins take advantage of their 6-on-5 opportunities, scoring on nearly 60% of them.
If this team maintains their offensive prowess, they could go down as the best offense in Bruin history. The 15.45 goals scored per game average is well ahead of the 12.53 goals per game average record set by the 1998 team. The 2007 team posted a UCLA-record 30 goals against Pacific back on February 17. They also scored 25 against Cal State Bakersfield. The 1998 team put up the previous UCLA record of 24 goals against Long Beach State. In 20 games this season, the Bruins have been held under scoring in the double digits just twice.
Senior goalkeeper Emily Feher, a 2006 first team All-American, anchors the defense. Feher has made 98 saves in 13 games. She currently holds a 5.6 goals against average. Emily is 37 saves away from tying USA national team goalkeeper Jamie Hipp with 685 career saves for second on the all-time UCLA saves list. Sophomore Katie Rulon leads the team with 37 steals and Junior Gabrielle Domanic leads the team in field saves with six. UCLA is holding its opponents to just a 31% success rate on 5-on-6 opportunities.
This is the last home game of the season for the Bruins.