May 8, 2007
The NCAA Tournament
This weekend the top-ranked women's water polo team will play for their third consecutive national championship in Los Alamitos, California. Despite winning the MPSF Tournament last week with a 9-3 victory over then top-ranked Stanford, UCLA was awarded the second seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins (25-2) will play the Pomona-Pitzer Hens (20-9) in the first game of the tournament. The game is scheduled for 1:30pm at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California. On March 3, the Bruins defeated the Hens 13-4 at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. The teams have played four common opponents, none of which Pomona has been able to defeat. The Hens are the top-rated Division III team according to the Collegiate Water Polo Association.
Should the Bruins advance, they will play either third-ranked USC or sixth-seeded Hartwick at 6:45 pm on Saturday. UCLA has not faced Hartwick in 2007, but defeated them 15-2 in the quarterfinals of last year's NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have defeated the Trojans three times by one goal in 2007.
On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Stanford will take on eighth-seeded Wagner and fifth-seeded LMU will take on fourth-seeded San Diego State.
A History of Championships
The women's water polo team is going for their third consecutive championship, which could also be UCLA's 100th NCAA Championship in school history. The Bruins have a championship history in nearly every single sport. Most notably, UCLA has won championships in basketball (11), tennis (16), volleyball (22 combined), softball (10), and water polo (12 combined). The Bruins lead the country with 99 titles. Stanford has claimed 93 championships, and USC has 84. The next closest university after USC is Oklahoma State with 48.
If the Bruins win the championship, it will also be coach Adam Krikorian's eighth NCAA championship in nine years as head coach of both the men's and women's water polo teams. With the exception of 2002, Krikorian has not gone a full year without winning at least one NCAA Championship since he took over as head coach in 1999.
The Bruins Assault
Since the third week in the 2007 season, the Bruins have had the most prolific offense in the country. Led by MPSF Player of the Year Kelly Rulon, the team has scored an astounding 387 goals in 27 games. The 387 goals, as well as their 14.33 goals per game average lead the nation. The team with the second most goals, San Diego State, has only 360 goals in nine more games played. The 2007 team has already broken the UCLA record for most goals scored in a game by netting 30 goals against Pacific. This year's team will go down as the most effective offense in Bruin history. The UCLA record for goal scoring average in a season is 12.53 goals per game, which was set by the 1998 team. This year's team has averaged nearly two more goals per game.
The Bruin Blockade
Complementing the most prolific offense in the country is the stingiest defense, led by Senior goalie Emily Feher. Feher just recently surpassed Jamie Hipp for second on UCLA's all-time career saves list; she has 696 career saves. UCLA has the fewest goals allowed as well as the lowest goals against average in the nation. The Bruins have given up just 146 goals in 27 games, good for a 5.41 goals against average. The closest competitor is the Stanford Cardinal, who has given up 159 goals for a 5.89 GAA. Statistically, UCLA has had the best defense in the country since the second week of the season. On the year, the Bruins have racked up 281 steals, led by Katie Rulon with 54 takeaways.
By outscoring their opponents 387-146 in 27 games, the team established an average margin of victory of nearly nine goals.
Sisters Katie and Kelly Rulon have been instrumental to the Bruin's success this year. They are the team's two leading goal scorers, combining for 116 of the team's 387 goals. They have also combined for nearly a third of the team's assists, and over a third of the team's steals. The Rulon's are shooting with a staggering 56% accuracy.
Kelly Rulon has tallied 233 career goals thus far, including 43 in the postseason. The all-time UCLA record for career goals is 235, held by current assistant coach Coralie Simmons. Simmons also holds the record for goals in an individual season with 74. Rulon has tallied 70 in each of the last two years, and currently has 66 goals in 2007. Simmon's 1998 team played at least six more games than the 2007 team.
Because she redshirted in 2004 to participate in the Athens Olympics, Kelly has won an NCAA Championship all three years she has played for the Bruins. For her career, she has averaged 2.22 goals per game in the NCAA tournament. She has 20 NCAA postseason goals, with 43 career postseason goals.
Directions to the NCAA Championships
Address: 4522 Saratoga Los Alamitos, CA, 90720, United States
Joint Forces Training Base-Los Alamitos is located at the Southern end of Lexington Drive in Los Alamitos near the Cypress Golf Course and the Los Alamitos Race Track.
From Interstate 605: take the Katella exit and proceed east. At the seventh traffic light (Lexington Drive near the Katella Deli) turn right. Two blocks ahead is the entrance to the Joint Forces Training Base.
From Interstate 405: take the Seal Beach/Los Alamitos Boulevard exit and proceed north to Farquhar (Just after the Jack in The Box restaurant on the right). When Farquhar dead-ends, turn right to the Base gate.
You must show your driver's license (or government issued ID) at the gate to enter the facility.