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NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship Post-Game Quotes
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  05/12/2008

May 11, 2008

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UCLA Head Coach Adam Krikorian
On the game:
"It's just an unbelievable feeling. These girls played with so much heart today. I don't know if we were that great offensively, but in the first quarter we were. But defensively, that was as good a performance as I've seen in a long time. USC's got a lot of great shooters, and to hold them to 2-for-13 on their power plays meant every single person did a great job defensively, from Brittney Fullen to everyone else."

"I think a big key today besides just our defense was getting off to a good start. Getting off to a good start settled us down a little bit, gave us some confidence, and this team was just excited to play. This hasn't happened all year, there's been some times where they've been in cruise mode a little bit and I've given them a hard time, but they certainly came to play today."

On how this year's title feels compared to the previous three years:
"They're all different, every single team that you coach. Ninety percent of them could be back, but the 10% that are incoming, it just changes the dynamic. The most special thing about coaching college kids is, they're 18-22 years old, and they grow up and mature a lot during that time period. I remember when Courtney was a freshman and sitting on the bench and not playing in a national championship game four years ago. Now she's grown up like everyone else. It makes the team dynamic completely different. It's a different road, every single time. To go undefeated is incredibly difficult in any sport, we saw that with the Patriots and Giants, it is not easy, and these girls handled it very well and stayed focused on the task."

On talk of a dynasty:
"You see different challenges every year. There's been a lot of good players that have come through the program that I've been very fortunate enough to coach, and the one thing that's always been consistent is hard work, great character kids, kids that are also very competitive, and this group was no different. If you want to talk about similarities [between the UCLA championship teams] this group is no different: very competitive, very driven. Again, we never talked about going undefeated, it was never an issue. We wanted to win every game we played, and that was the focus. It's amazing to think about it.

"I didn't really think about it before, but now I'm starting to go through some thoughts. You talk about four national championships for these seniors, who when you go back, maybe some volleyball players [have won four straight national titles]. This is incredible. Their overall record, well they've only lost six times, I know that. I can remember each one of those losses."

On winning the title near his hometown (Mountain View, Calif.)
"To a part of me, this is still home for me. I went to UCLA and started at UCLA in 1992, and I haven't left L.A. since, so about 16 years I've been down there. But I spent the first 18 years of my life in Mountain View, and actually played club water polo here at Stanford Water Polo. I had a lot of great coaches growing up, even a former swim coach that just passed away a month ago, a man by the name of Kevin Perry, who was really my inspiration growing up in this area and swimming for him. My parents still live here, I have brothers that live close by. Winning championships is pretty fun, but there's nothing better than family."

UCLA's Courtney Mathewson
On being a four-time national champion:
"It's pretty incredible. When you're going through the process you don't really think about at the beginning of the season wanting to be undefeated this whole entire season. Its not necessarily a goal that you have, I feel like at the beginning of the year the goal is the same: to make it to the championship game. Ultimately everyone wants to win the championship. It is really incredible when you stop and think about all the success we've had in the past four years. We've had a lot of girls come through the program, and every single year, like Adam said, it's been a different team, there have been different hardships, but it is an awesome accomplishment. I'm really proud of all the girls in my class."

On close games and previous losses building character:
"We played Stanford, I believe, in the Irvine Tournament, and went to overtime. We didn't play well at all, and it was kind of a scare, kind of a reality check to us to tell us we're not invincible, that people were going to come out hard. You want to beat the teams that are undefeated. Midseason, I think it was really good for us to have that reality check. As the season progressed, it went to more individual games. Playing single-game settings, and by the end, we got to the conference tournament and played Hawai'i. They came out and we were down 0-3, and that had never happened to us, we'd never been down by more than two the whole season. The great thing about our team is that we have a quiet confidence, when we came in after the first period against Hawai'i, we looked around and no one was freaking out. I think that quiet confidence really helped us in those close games, and we know how talented we are and how well we can play. It's just a matter of doing it. I don't think there was ever a point where we doubted ourselves, and I think we really believe in each other and that's what makes it really easy to play together."

On the hard work put in during the year:
"[Practice] starts in January, and then we have Sundays off, usually. Practice is hard, its extremely hard, and some days you don't want to do it, but when you look at your teammates and everyone else is doing the exact same thing you are, it helps to motivate you. And Adam can really lay it on you during practice, I won't lie, but it builds character when you're holding this big, 10-pound weight ball over your head for about the 30th minute, after you swam about 4,000 [yards]. When you see your teammates doing the same exact thing it motivates you to kick a little higher and swim a little harder."

UCLA's Tanya Gandy
On the pressure of what's next:
"We have a lot of pressure to be as great as all of the seniors I have come across. Ever since I was a freshman I came in and we've had such great leaders on our team that you came in and you just knew what you had to do. You knew you had to work hard and you knew that you had to play the best you can play. I'm very lucky to be on a team with such great leaders, five seniors that since the first day of practice they came out and they led this team and did a great job with our 12 freshmen. I just have a lot of confidence in them, so hopefully the five of us next year can do the same."

USC Head Coach Jovan Vavic
On the game:
"Our youth showed tonight. We were a little bit nervous and didn't start the game that great. We missed many opportunities and really couldn't get back into it. Its really tough when a team gets a really big lead. They're a very good defensive team and they know what our strengths and our weaknesses are and they really exploit them."

"We played really good defense, I would think, for most of the game but couldn't convert. Last night our shots went in, we hit some incredible shots last night, but tonight we didn't."

On USC's power-play struggles in the contest:
"Well, I think last night we had some really good looks and good shots, and we actually won the game by finishing our 6-on-5s. We hit huge shots, three in a row, in the third and fourth quarter. Tonight, they just didn't go. I think there were times when we really didn't execute what we planned to do, and we rushed some shots. We are not a great shooting team, that's just the way our team is. Our team is not consisted of great outside shooters, so to start with that, it is one of our problems that we are not an incredible shooting team. We have many players who are very good drivers, post-up players, but shooting is not our strength and that showed tonight."

On carrying this experience into next year:
"I'm very proud of my girls. This was a great season and I felt that we really overachieved in many areas. We lost six starters from last year's team. The only starter on this team from last year is Miranda, so this is a brand-new team. For us this is a great accomplishment, and I wish we would have played better in the finals, but this is a great accomplishment for a young team. Our best player is redshirting for the Olympics, and last year in the middle of our season I had three of my national team players play for the national team, and I think that influenced our season. In 2006 we lost the championship on a last-second shot. So I think there are some other things that go into winning a championship, but I guarantee you we will be back next year.

USC's Miranda Nichols
On the difference between the first and second halves of the game:
"Just maybe a lot of nervous energy, they have a lot more experience in these big games than we do. They have more seniors and juniors who have played in NCAA finals and we don't. So I think they just came out stronger than we did, we maybe had a little bit of nervous energy. After a few minutes we got back into the game and it was a much closer game after that, but it was just hard to get back after that [start]."

USC's Veronika Bartunkova
On the difference between the game's two halves:
"I agree, they had a really strong start, and we were maybe a little nervous, and have players who have never played in an NCAA title game, and they're experience just showed. They started off stronger, and then we started playing and it was too late."


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