Sept. 8, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 2-ranked UCLA men's water polo team begins its 2010 campaign with a non-conference match against Concordia on Saturday, Sept. 11. Game time at the Bruins' Spieker Aquatics Center is 12 p.m. UCLA last played Concordia at the 2009 NorCal Tournament, earning a 12-5 victory against the Eagles in a first-round match (Sept. 19, 2009). The Bruins own a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series between the two programs.
Saturday, Sept. 11 - Game time: 12 p.m.
No. 12 Concordia (0-0) at No. 2 UCLA
at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center (12 p.m.)
2010 NorCal Tournament
Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 18-19 at California
Opponents and game times to be determined
Admission to Saturday's match at Spieker Aquatics Center is free. Fans parking near the aquatic facility should follow signs directing where cars can be parked. Typically, fans are encouraged to park at the Sunset Village Parking Garage, located on DeNeve Drive just south of Spieker Aquatics Center and the adjacent tennis courts.
UCLA returns 15 letterwinners from its 2009 team, losing just five players to graduation. The Bruins look to return to the NCAA Tournament, after having lost to USC, 6-5, in the NCAA title contest one year ago. UCLA won the 2009 MPSF Tournament after having finished fourth in the conference's regular standings with a 5-3 record. Seniors Ben Hohl, Clay Jorth, Kevin Kuga, Jacob Murphy and Emilio Vieira will be counted upon for veteran leadership in 2010.
DON'T BE OFFENDED
Over 78 percent of UCLA's scoring output from one season ago returns in 2010. The Bruins' returning letterwinners account for 240 of the team's 305 goals (78.7 pct) from the 2009 campaign. While the Bruins have lost leading scorer and 2009 MPSF Player of the Year honoree Scott Davidson (47 goals), UCLA returns key scorers Ben Hohl (40), Griffin White (33), Josh Samuels (32), Cullen Hennessy (23) and Emilio Vieira (20). Those five players accounted for 48.5 percent of UCLA's total goals in 2009.
Top returning scorer Ben Hohl has had a terrific career at UCLA, scoring 27 goals as a freshman (2007), 33 as a sophomore (2008) and 40 as a junior (2009). The left-handed attacker enters this week's opening match having registered 100 career goals in 82 matches (81 starts), while logging 47 assists, 45 steals and 18 blocks. Hohl spent time last February and during the summer playing for the USA National Team, competing at the Volvo Cup (Germany) and at the FINA World Championships (Romania).
Senior center Jacob Murphy enters this week's match having tallied 47 career goals on 113 attempts in three seasons, collecting 62 earned exclusions, 18 blocks and 28 steals in 67 games (23 starts). Murphy played with former UCLA teammate Scott Davidson and fellow senior Ben Hohl on the USA National Team at the Volvo Cup (Germany) last February. Murphy gained valuable experience competing for Team USA, and returns to Westwood this fall seeking to finish his career on a high note.
Sophomores Griffin White, Josh Samuels and Bret Lathrope proved to be impact freshmen for the Bruins in 2009. White tallied 33 goals, the highest single-season freshman total since Brett Ormsby logged 41 goals as a freshman in 2001. Samuels finished just behind White with 32 goals, while Lathrope saw action in all 30 games and netted 11 goals. Lathrope, Samuels, White and redshirt freshman Chris Wendt spent the summer playing for the USA Junior National Team at the Pan American Games in Pinecrest, Fla.
IN THE CAGE
UCLA returns two goalkeepers in 2010 - junior Andrew Mesesan and sophomore Matt Rapacz. Both Mesesan and Rapacz have played in backup roles to former four-year starter Chay Lapin (exhausted eligibility). Rapacz played in 12 games last all, while Mesesan saw action in three matches. The Bruins also have three true freshmen goalkeepers on their roster - James Adams (San Marino, Calif.), Matt Hartshorne (Irvine, Calif.) and Stephen White (San Diego, Calif.).
Three players on the Bruins' 2010 roster arrive at UCLA after having grown up outside the United States. Senior Emilio Vieira hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and spent two years studying at Golden West College (Huntington Beach, Calif.) before enrolling at UCLA in 2009. Freshmen Aimone Barabino and Cristiano Mirarchi call Italy home. Barabino, from Recco, Italy, spent the 2009-10 school year in New York City, attending La Scuola d'Italia, while Mirarchi attended high school in his hometown of Rome.
UCLA has been selected second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) preseason coaches poll, trailing first-place selection California. Stanford has been picked to finish third, USC fourth and UC Irvine fifth. Rounding out the bottom four places in the preseason poll are UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Pacific and Pepperdine, respectively. UCLA received two of nine first-place votes, while California collected four first-place votes. Stanford had two first-place votes and USC picked up one.
As released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) on Sept. 8, UCLA has been tabbed No. 2 in the national top-20 rankings. California is ranked No. 1 in this week's poll, while Stanford, USC and UC Irvine compete the top five picks, respectively. UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Long Beach State round out the top 10 preseason selections, respectively. Last season, UCLA finished the year ranked second in the nation as the NCAA Tournament's runner-up.
HOME SWEET HOME
UCLA will host 10 regular-season matches at Spieker Aquatics Center this fall, in addition to hosting the SoCal Tournament (Oct. 2-3) for the first time in program history. The Bruins open their season with this weekend's home match against Concordia (Saturday, 12 p.m.). After the two-day NorCal Tournament on Sept. 18-19, the Bruins will face Loyola Marymount at home on Saturday, Sept. 25 (7 p.m.). UCLA will host four of their MPSF matches at home (vs. Stanford, UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Pepperdine).
ON THE HORIZON
After opening the season against Concordia this Saturday, UCLA will prepare for the NorCal Tournament, hosted by California at the Golden Bears' Spieker Aquatics Complex the weekend of Sept. 18-19. Last fall, the Bruins upset then-No. 1-seed USC in the semifinals before losing to Stanford, 6-5, in the championship match of the NorCal Tournament. Opponents and game times for this season's NorCal Tournament will be announced at a later date.