Sept. 24, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's water polo team will host the first ever athletics event at the University's new, state-of-the-art Spieker Aquatics Center when the Bruins host No. 7 UC Irvine on Saturday. The non-conference tilt is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights. An audio broadcast will be available for free at uclabruins.com
NO. 7 UC IRVINE (6-2) at NO. 2 UCLA (8-1)
Saturday, Sept. 26 - 7 p.m.
at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center
A LOOK BACK
UCLA won its first eight games before dropping a 6-5 decision at Stanford in the NorCal Tournament's first-place match. The Bruins won all five games at the Princeton Invitational (Sept. 11-13). UCLA won its first two games on day one at the NorCal Tournament before upsetting then-No. 1 USC by a 5-4 margin in the semifinal match. The Bruins reeled off their first 8-0 start since 1996, when they began the year 13-0.
Freshman utility player Josh Samuels has excelled in his first nine games playing collegiate water polo. The native of Villa Park, Calif., currently leads the Bruins with 15 goals in nine matches. Samuels has scored at least one goal in eight of UCLA's nine games and registered a season-high four goals against Iona at the Princeton Invitational on Sept. 12.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior center Cole Consani earned MPSF Co-Player of the Week honors after scoring 11 goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational. The resident of Manhattan Beach, Calif., tied for UCLA's team lead that weekend with 11 goals (with Josh Samuels). Consani earned the weekly honor with UC Irvine's Greg Enloe, securing MPSF Co-Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career.
The Bruins opened their season with a new head coach and will open a state-of-the-art aquatics facility, Spieker Aquatics Center, on Saturday. Former Olympian Adam Wright, a four-year UCLA water polo letterwinner (1997-2000), was named head coach in the offseason and works with Adam Krikorian, associate head coach who enters his 14th season coaching the men's water polo team.
IN THE CAGE
Senior Chay Lapin has recorded 48 saves in nine matches, having played in 18 quarters for UCLA this fall. Lapin currently boasts a 3.33 goals against average. Freshman Matt Rapacz made his collegiate debut in UCLA's season opener at Princeton on Sept. 11. Rapacz finished the five-game tournament having notched 24 saves and allowed 13 goals in 10 quarters. Collectively, UCLA's goalkeepers have registered a 4.78 goals against average, the second-lowest mark in the nation.
DON'T BE OFFENDED
UCLA returns over 72 percent of its scoring output from one season ago. The Bruins' returning letterwinners account for 161 of the team's 222 goals (72.5 pct) from the 2008 campaign. Aside from the loss of leading scorer Krsto Sbutega (50), the Bruins welcome back the return of key attackers Scott Davidson (34), Ben Hohl (33), Jacob Murphy (21), Scott Swanson (18) and Cullen Hennessy (14).
Junior center Jacob Murphy made significant strides as a sophomore in 2008, having collected 21 saves in 53 attempts, primarily from the two-meter position. He finished fourth on the team in goals scored before securing MPSF All-Academic Team honors. Murphy spent the summer of 2009 playing for the United States on a team of collegiate players at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia.
Among UCLA's most consistent scoring threats the last two seasons, junior Ben Hohl has played in all 52 matches since arriving in Westwood as a true freshman in 2007. The native of Atherton, Calif., scored 27 goals on 61 attempts as a freshman (2007) before recording 33 goals on 78 attempts as a sophomore (2008). Hohl has registered 71 career goals in just over two full seasons at UCLA.
UCLA welcomes 19 newcomers, including 17 true freshmen, to the program this season. Among one of UCLA's largest recruiting classes in recent years, head coach Adam Wright looks for several true freshmen to contribute from the start. The Bruins welcome CIF Southern Section Player of the Year selections Griffin White (Division I) and Josh Samuels (Division II), in addition to five first-team All-CIF selections and three-time All-Illinois state selection Chris Wendt.
As released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) on Sept. 16, UCLA has been tabbed No. 2 in the national top-20 water polo rankings. Stanford has claimed the No. 1 spot after having won the NorCal Tournament (Sept. 19-20). USC, California and Loyola Marymount round out the poll's top five teams, respectively. Following Loyola Marymount, in order, is UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Long Beach State and Santa Clara.
UCLA's home schedule opens when the Bruins take on UC Irvine on Saturday, Sept. 26. That contest will mark the first major athletic event to take place at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center, located adjacent to Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. Prior to the game against UC Irvine, the UCLA athletic department will honor several of the key benefactors of the new, state-of-the-art aquatics facility.
HOME SWEET HOME
In addition to hosting UC Irvine on Sept. 26, the Bruins will play five other home matches this fall. UCLA hosts California in its first MPSF contest at Spieker Aquatics Center on Oct. 16. The Bruins will play a doubleheader against Pacific and Chapman on Oct. 25. UCLA concludes its regular season schedule with back-to-back home MPSF matches - versus USC (Nov. 7) and UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 15).