March 10, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 4 UCLA women's water polo team plays two games this week, facing No. 13 UC Irvine in a non-conference match Thursday evening on the road, before hosting No. 6 Arizona State in an MPSF game on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bruins have not played UC Irvine this season and earned a 7-6 victory against Arizona State in the two schools' only meeting earlier this season (Feb. 7, at Stanford Invite).
THIS WEEK'S MATCHES
Thursday, March 11 - at UC Irvine's Anteater Aquatics Complex, 7 p.m.
No. 4 UCLA (12-5) at No. 13 UC Irvine (7-9)
Saturday, March 13 - at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center, 1 p.m.
No. 6 Arizona State (11-5, 0-0) at No. 4 UCLA (12-5, 1-1)
UCLA's last two games have finished after multiple overtimes sessions. The Bruins dropped a 9-8 decision at Hawai'i in a conference match last Saturday in six overtimes. Neither team scored in each of the first two three-minute overtime sessions (prior to sudden death), before Hawai'i broke an 8-8 tie in the sixth extra period. UCLA secured a 7-6 win in eight overtimes against California the previous weekend. That eight overtime match stands as the longest game on record in the history of NCAA women's water polo.
THIRD AT UCI INVITATIONAL
The Bruins finished third at the UCI Invitational two weeks ago (Feb. 27-28), winning three of four matches, including an eight-overtime third-place match versus California. UCLA opened the weekend with consecutive victories on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara (9-3) and Michigan (7-5). The Bruins dropped a 10-4 decision to Stanford on Sunday before rebounding with a 7-6 victory over California.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
UCLA's eight-overtime contest against California on Sunday, Feb. 28, marked the longest match in the history of NCAA women's water polo. The Bruins dropped a 3-2 decision in seven overtimes against Stanford at the 2003 MPSF Championships. In the victory against California last weekend, sophomore KK Clark scored the game-winning goal with 1:07 to play in the final overtime session.
With just seven regular-season matches to play, the Bruins have received 10 or more goals from eight players. Junior Grace Reynolds leads UCLA with 24 goals and is followed by junior Priscilla Orozco's 19 goals. Junior Kelly Easterday and sophomores KK Clark and Sarah Orozco have each scored 15 goals to round out the list of UCLA's top-five goal scorers.
WINNERS IN NORCAL
UCLA went 3-0 in three games in northern California three weeks ago, opening the trip with a crucial 7-6 victory at California in the Bruins' first MPSF match of the season. UCLA evened its record against the Golden Bears to 1-1 on the season. The Bruins won a pair of non-conference games the next day. UCLA defeated UC Davis, 8-3, before cruising past Sonoma State, 24-4 (both games at Sonoma State).
MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Dement secured MPSF Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career two weeks ago. Dement, who hails from Chino, Calif., logged a career-high 22 saves in UCLA's 8-3 win over UC Davis at Sonoma State on Feb. 21. She finished that weekend with 27 saves, including five stops in UCLA's 7-6 victory at then-No. 3 California last Saturday.
ON THE HORIZON
Following this week's pair of games against UC Irvine and Arizona State, the Bruins will take the week off for Winter Quarter final exams. UCLA will return to action with consecutive home games against Stanford and San Jose State on March 27 and March 28, respectively. The Bruins follow their final two home matches with three road contests in April (at Loyola Marymount, at San Diego State and at USC).
AT THE HELM
Leading a young UCLA team stocked with talented newcomers is first-year head coach Brandon Brooks. A four-year men's water polo letterwinner at UCLA (1999-2002), Brooks was named the second head coach in program history last June. A two-time USA Olympian and silver-medal winner at the 2008 Olympics, Brooks spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach on the men's and women's coaching staffs at UCLA. Brooks also welcomes former UCLA standout Molly Cahill as an assistant coach this spring.
UCLA currently presides as five-time defending NCAA champions. In that unprecedented five-year span, the Bruins have logged a 148-12 record (.925 winning percentage). Along the way, the Bruins have posted two perfect 33-0 records (including 12-0 marks in MPSF play). UCLA initiated its five-year run with a 33-0 finish in 2005 and duplicated that effort by going 33-0 in 2008.
IN THE CAGE
The Bruins' 2010 roster features three talented goalkeepers - sophomores Caitlin Dement, and Kristen Simonds and junior Morgan Ronimus. Dement has started 16 of UCLA's 17 matches this season. The Chino, Calif., resident has recorded 154 saves in 556:30 minutes, posting a 6.37 goals against average in the cage. Dement made a career-high 22 saves at UC Davis on Sunday, Feb. 21.
As released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association on March 10, UCLA has been tabbed No. 4 in the the top-20 rankings. USC is currently ranked No. 1 and is followed by Stanford, California, UCLA and Hawai'i in the top five spots. Arizona State, San Jose State, Michigan, Loyola Marymount and Cal State Northridge round out the top-10 rankings, respectively. Rankings are released each Wednesday.
In addition to welcoming a first-year head coach, the UCLA women's water polo team is playing at a new pool this spring. The Spieker Aquatics Center opened in Sept. 2009, in time for UCLA's men's water polo season, and serves as the new home to UCLA women's water polo. UCLA has three remaining regular-season matches in Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center before hosting the MPSF Tournament.