Jan. 20, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA women's water polo team opens its season at the Michigan Invitational this weekend, playing four games in two days. The Bruins will face Colorado State and No. 14 Hartwick on Saturday. UCLA will take on No. 8 Michigan before a nationally-televised audience on the Big Ten Network on Sunday morning (8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET). The Bruins close their weekend facing Cal State Northridge that afternoon. UCLA went 3-1 at the season-opening Michigan Invitational one year ago, securing wins over Indiana, Michigan and UC San Diego, while dropping a contest to San Diego State.
UCLA AT THE MICHIGAN INVITATIONAL
all games at Michigan's Canham Natatorium
Saturday, Jan. 22
No. 4 UCLA (0-0) vs. Colorado State (0-0), 5 a.m. (PT)
No. 4 UCLA (0-0) vs. No. 14 Hartwick (0-0), 11:30 a.m. (PT)
Sunday, Jan. 23
No. 4 UCLA (0-0) at No. 8 Michigan (0-0), 8 a.m. (PT) - TV: Big Ten Network
No. 4 UCLA (0-0) at No. 15 Cal State Northridge (0-0), 12:50 p.m. (PT)
2011 AT A GLANCE
UCLA returns eight seniors in 2011, one year after not having had any seniors on the roster. The Bruins will look to a supporting cast of six juniors, nine sophomores and four freshmen to help lead the way. UCLA's schedule is currently lined with 27 regular-season matches. The Bruins play in four in-season tournaments - the Michigan Invitational, Stanford Invitational, Triton Invitational and UC Irvine Invitational - over the first six weekends of the season. UCLA opens MPSF play at home against Hawai'i on Thursday, Feb. 24, after a non-conference home match versus UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Senior Grace Reynolds emerged as UCLA's leading scorer in 2010, recording 43 goals in 27 matches. Reynolds captured second-team All-MPSF acclaim and second-team ACWPC All-America honors. One year ago, she led the Bruins with nine goals in four matches at the season-opening Michigan Invitational. Reynolds is expected to team with Becca Dorst, Sarah Orozco and Katie Estrada at the two-meter position in 2011. A two-year standout at California (2007-08), Reynolds sat out the 2009 season due to NCAA transfer rules. At California, she led the Golden Bears in scoring each year (52 goals in 2008, 43 goals in 2007).
Senior Priscilla Orozco enters her final season in Westwood having registered 107 career goals on 244 attempts, scoring at a 43.9 percent clip. A native of Commerce, Calif., she finished second on the team with 40 goals and first with 27 steals last spring. She was the Bruins' lone first-team ACWPC All-America honoree and first-team All-MPSF selection at the end of the season. As a freshman (2008) and sophomore (2009), she helped guide the Bruins to consecutive NCAA Championships. Priscilla has played with her sister Sarah, a junior attacker, on the UCLA women's water polo team the last two seasons.
Seniors Megan Burmeister and Kelly Easterday have become two standout defenders for UCLA over the last three seasons. Easterday was an honorable mention All-MPSF Team selection in 2010 and has secured ACWPC All-Academic "excellent" accolades in each of her three seasons in Westwood. She recorded 23 goals and 27 earned exclusions last season. Burmeister tallied 16 goals and 20 steals as a junior in 2010 before earning ACWPC All-Academic "excellent" honors for the first time in her career. Both Burmeister and Easterday played signifcant roles on UCLA's 2008 and 2009 NCAA Championship teams.
UCLA's class of six juniors is headlined by KK Clark and Sarah Orozco, two players that have made significant contributions the last two years. Clark, a 6-foot-2 utility player, scored 31 goals as a sophomore (2009) and 30 as a freshman (2008). Last spring, she captured honorable mention All-MPSF acclaim and secured ACWPC All-Academic "excellent" honors. Sarah Orozco showed her versatility in being able to play at two-meters and excel as a driver. She scored 21 goals in 30 matches, totaling 25 earned exclusions and 11 steals. She totaled one four-goal effort in a non-conference win over UC Davis on Feb. 21.
IN THE CAGE
The Bruins enter 2011 with three talented goalkeepers - juniors Caitlin Dement and Kristen Simonds and freshman Sami Hill. Dement established UCLA's single-season saves record last spring, totaling 264 saves in 29 matches (28 starts). She eclipsed the program's previous record by 27 saves (Brittany Fullen had 234 in 2008) and secured second-team All-MPSF honors. Simonds played in two matches, making one start, and logged 10 saves. Hill enters UCLA having starred the last four years at Dos Pueblos High School, near Santa Barbara, Calif. She was a two-time Junior Olympics MVP with the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club.
As released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA), UCLA has been ranked No. 4 in the preseason national top-20 poll. Stanford has opened the season as the preseason No. 1 selection and is followed by USC and California, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 selections, in order, are Hawai'i, Loyola Marymount, San Jose State, Michigan, Arizona State and San Diego State. UCLA won the 2010 MPSF Tournament title, and USC captured the 2010 NCAA Championship over runner-up Stanford.
ON THE HORIZON
UCLA opens its home schedule against Long Beach State on Saturday, Jan. 29. The following weekend (Feb. 5-6), UCLA will head north to play four games in two days at the Stanford Invitational. One year ago, the Bruins finished third at the Stanford Invitational, earning victories over Hawai'i and Arizona State. After the Stanford Invitational, UCLA will play in the Triton Invitational at UC San Diego (Feb. 12-13).
AT THE HELM
Brandon Brooks begins his second year as UCLA's head coach. The four-year Bruin letterwinner (1999-2002) and a 2005 graduate of UCLA helped lead the Bruins to a 22-8 record and MPSF Tournament title in his first season as the program's head coach in 2010. Brooks represented the United States on the men's national team at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, leading Team USA to the silver medal in 2008.