April 27, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA women's water polo team opens postseason play at the annual MPSF Tournament this Friday, taking on No. 5-seed USC in a first-round contest at 3 p.m. at San Jose State. The Bruins, seeded No. 4 in the MPSF Tournament, finished in a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings with Hawai'i and USC.
2011 MPSF TOURNAMENT
Friday, April 29 at San Jose State's Aquatics Center
No. 4-seed UCLA (22-5) vs. No. 5-seed USC (16-5)
Game Time: 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 30
Semifinal matches, TBD
Sunday, May 1
Championship round, TBD
A LOOK AT THE FIELD
Stanford enters the 2011 MPSF Tournament as the top-seeded team, having gone 23-0 overall with a 7-0 mark in conference play. California earned the conference's No. 2 seed with a 6-1 MPSF record and 21-4 overall mark. Hawai'i secured the No. 3 seed with a tiebreak over UCLA and USC.
SERIES AGAINST USC
UCLA leads the all-time series against USC, 39-18. The Women of Troy have earned two victories against UCLA in three meetings this season. USC downed the Bruins, 10-8, at the Stanford Invitational (Feb. 5) and by a 9-8 margin at the UCI Invitational (Feb. 27). UCLA registered a 7-5 victory over USC at Spieker Aquatics Center in an MPSF contest on April 9.
The Bruins won the 2010 MPSF Tournament title as the conference's No. 5-seeded team. UCLA opened with an 8-6 victory over No. 4-seed Hawai'i before posting upsets in the semifinals and championship round. UCLA upended Stanford, 7-6, in a semifinal contest before edging USC, 8-7, in the title match. The Bruins hosted the MPSF Tournament for the first time in school history last season.
UCLA closed its regular season over one week ago riding a four-game winning streak. The Bruins posted a 12-5 win over Loyola Marymount on April 14 before taking down San Diego State, 9-3, in an MPSF match on April 16. Grace Reynolds scored 13 goals through the Bruins' final four matches, securing MPSF Player of the Week honors on Monday, April 11.
Senior Priscilla Orozco captured MPSF Player of the Week honors on three consecutive weeks (Feb. 14, 21 and 28). Orozco earned the conference's weekly honors on Feb. 28 after having scored a team-leading 12 goals in UCLA's four matches at the UC Irvine Invitational (Feb. 26-27). She has tallied five goals in two games this season - against UC Irvine (Feb. 19) and USC (Feb. 27) at the UCI Invitational.
Among the top scorers among MPSF players, senior Priscilla Orozco and junior KK Clark enter the 2011 MPSF Tournament as UCLA's top two scorers. Orozco scored in each of UCLA's first 19 matches and currently ranks seventh in the MPSF in goals scored per game (1.78). Clark is 12th in goals per game (1.56) among MPSF field players and has scored in 23 of 27 matches.
UCLA's team has been bolstered by seven seniors in 2011. Kelly Easterday and Megan Burmeister have been two instrumental defenders on the Bruins' squad each of the last four years. Easterday has scored 16 goals and totaled a team-high 32 earned exclusions. Burmeister enters the MPSF Tournament with 11 goals and eight steals. Grace Reynolds has been UCLA's go-to center, scoring 30 goals in 23 contests. Priscilla Orozco leads UCLA with 48 goals, Noel Umphrey has tallied 10 goals, Katie Estrada has totaled two goals and 11 earned exclusions and Kelsey McGinley has scored six goals.
The 2011 NCAA Tournament will take place at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., the weekend of May 13-15. The winner of this weekend's MPSF Tournament will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. A strong showing by UCLA at the conference tournament can help UCLA solidify an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
IN THE CAGE
Junior Caitlin Dement leads the Bruins with 128 saves in 18 games (18 starts). Dement leads the team with a 5.14 goals against average, which currently ranks fourth among MPSF goalkeepers. Sami Hill, a two-time MPSF Newcomer of the Week honoree this spring, has posted a 5.69 goals against average, fifth-lowest in the MPSF. Hill has tallied 112 saves in 14 games (nine starts).
As released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) on Wednesday, April 27, UCLA is ranked No. 3 in the national top-20 poll. Stanford and California are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, while USC checks in at No. 4. Hawai'i is ranked No. 5, while Michigan, San Jose State, Loyola Marymount, San Diego State and UC Irvine round out the nation's top-10 ranked teams.
AT THE HELM
Second-year head coach Brandon Brooks was a four-year Bruin letterwinner (1999-2002) and a 2005 graduate of UCLA. Last season, he helped lead the Bruins to a 22-8 record and MPSF Tournament title in his first season as head coach. 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.