Sept. 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's water polo team competes at the NorCal Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. The Bruins open tournament play against host No. 14 Pacific on Saturday at 10:40 a.m. UCLA will face either No. 5 Pepperdine or No. 11 UC Davis that afternoon.
Last fall, UCLA finished third at the NorCal Tournament. The Bruins opened with first-day victories against Santa Clara and Pepperdine. In their semifinal match on day two, the Bruins dropped a 10-8 decision to California before bouncing back that afternoon with a 13-9 win over Stanford. The 2008 NorCal Tournament features all nine MPSF teams.
UCLA opened its 2008 season with a 10-4 victory at UC Irvine on Saturday, Sept. 13. The Bruins overcame an early 1-0 deficit, scoring six consecutive goals to lead, 6-1, midway through the third quarter. Senior Krsto Sbutega led UCLA's attack with a career-high five goals, and junior Scott Davidson added a pair for the Bruins. Junior goalkeeper Chay Lapin logged 11 saves in the cage.
Senior Krsto Sbutega scored a career-high five goals in UCLA's win at UC Irvine last Saturday. Sbutega became the first Bruin to score five or more goals in a game since Sept. 22, 2007, when Scott Davidson netted five goals in a 12-11, sudden-victory overtime win against UC Irvine. Sbutega earned MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week honors with Stanford's Janson Wigo on Sept. 15.
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 12 freshmen (five expected to redshirt). The Bruins' other two seniors - Chris Allen and Russell Simpkins - will solidify a defense backed by Lapin, who has started 36 games the past two seasons in the cage.
UCLA returns its top two scorers from the 2007 squad. Junior Scott Davidson led the way with 49 goals and senior Krsto Sbutega followed with 35 goals last season. Davidson earned second-team All-MPSF honors after having scored at least one goal in each of UCLA's final 14 games (31 goals in that span). Sbutega finished second on the team in both points and steals (24) and ranked first among all Bruins in assists (25) as a junior.
Playing as a true freshman one year ago, sophomore Ben Hohl emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, totaling 27 goals on 61 attempts in all 28 games (making 27 starts). Last Saturday, Hohl scored one goal in UCLA's 10-4 win over UC Irvine in the season opener (Sept. 13). Last season, Hohl led UCLA with three goals in his debut, the Bruins' season opener at Loyola Marymount.
UCLA was selected fourth in the national preseason poll and the MPSF preseason coaches' poll. California earned the top spot in the national poll, as USC, Stanford, UCLA and UC Irvine rounded out the top five selections. The MPSF coaches' poll listed USC above Stanford, California, UCLA, Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and Pacific.
IN THE CAGE
Junior goalkeeper Chay Lapin returns to the cage to lead UCLA's defense. In UCLA's season opener, Lapin collected 11 saves in 32 minutes. Last season, he registered a 6.90 goals against average, totaling 198 saves in 21 games. Lapin captured second-team All-MPSF honors and was named an All-America selection. He spent the spring and summer training with the U.S. Men's National Team prior to its silver medal-winning performance at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Junior Alex Lawrence and redshirt freshman Andrew Mesesan are expected to challenge for playing time in a backup role.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bruins will host six home matches this season - four at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and two at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. UCLA opens its home slate against Long Beach State (Oct. 4) at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. The Bruins host Loyola Marymount (Oct. 9) at Sunset Canyon two days before the annual SoCal Tournament. Other home matches include Stanford (Oct. 18, at RBAC), Brown (Oct. 19), UC Irvine (Nov. 7) and UC San Diego (Nov. 9).
AT THE HELM
In his 10th season as head coach of the men's water polo team, Adam Krikorian has tallied a 177-54 career record at UCLA. A four-year water polo 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 championships as an assistant coach and one NCAA title as a player (1995).