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Crucial Homestand for No. 2 Men's Water Polo
By: UCLA Athletics

November 3, 1998

This Weekend In Water Polo: The No. 2 Bruins (13-3 overall, 5-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) host a critical weekend of water polo in UCLA's last two games at Sunset Recreation Center this weekend. The Bruins will meet No. 3 UC Irvine on Sunday, November 8, at noon, in a conference match with post-season implications. MPSF records will determine seeding at the conference tournament, where the tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA four-team final. The other berth granted to the MPSF comes in the form of an at-large bid decided by committee vote. With the top four teams standing fairly even at this point, each match becomes a must-win situation. UC Irvine, coached by Ted Newland (33 years, 631-261-5 overall record) is currently 14-5 overall, 3-1 in conference play, and is very competitive in the conference race. The Anteaters have won 12 of their last 14 games, and are led in scoring by senior Ryan Bailey, who has tallied 72 points this season, and is also the MPSF's leading scorer. Starting goalkeeper Genai Kerr has pulled down 150 saves and is posting a 6.79 goals against average. UC Irvine averages over 9 goals scored per game.

The Bruins also host No. 10 UC San Diego at Sunset Recreation Center on Friday, November 6, at 3 p.m. This non-conference game will count toward the Bruins' overall record, and UCSD is only the second non-MPSF team UCLA has faced this season. On Friday, October 30, the UC San Diego Tritons took Long Beach State into overtime before succumbing 11-9. The Tritons have accumulated a 12-9 overall record under head coach Denny Harper, and are led in scoring by Ross Mecham and Douglass Cole.

Last Week's Recap: Halloween was haunting for the Bruins,who suffered a tough 7- 5 loss to No. 4 Stanford on Saturday. But UCLA managed to split the weekend with a 9-8 victory over No. 8 Long Beach State, and remained third in the conference standings behind Stanford (6-1 MPSF) and USC (5-0 MPSF). Sophomore Sean Kern (Honolulu HI, Punahou HS) scored five goals over the weekend, notching two in UCLA's lackluster performance against the Cardinal, and tallying a hat-trick versus Long Beach. It was a good weekend for sophomore Adam Wright (Seal Beach, Wilson HS) as well, as the playmaker scored four goals and assisted on three, tallying a steal and a field save.

Who To Watch: The Bruins are outscoring opponents 134-93, thanks to a defense that allows only 5.8 goals scored per game. Junior netkeeper Parsa Bonderson (Santa Barbara, San Marcos HS), whose 122 saves and 5.60 goals against average places him second for goals allowed and fourth for saves per game in the conference's goalkeeping standings, expects a battle with UC Irvine's goalie, Kerr, who ranks first in saves per game and fourth in points allowed. The Bruin attack, led by Kern, will be looking to put Kerr to the test on Saturday. Kern is riding an eight game scoring streak, during which he has netted 14 points, and has scored in all but one of UCLA's 1998 matches. Kern, a returning All-MPSF and All-American, is responsible for 25% of the squad's scoring, and averages a pair of goals notched per game. The story for the season has been the play of the Bruin sophomores, Kern, Wright, Andy Bailey (San Clemente, San Clemente HS), Brian Brown (Santa Ana, Foothill HS), Dave Parker (Orinda, Miramonte HS), and Blake Wellen (Mill Valley, Tamalpais HS), who account for 67% of the total scoring, 65% of the squad assists, 63% of steals, and 78% of field saves. Wellen leads the team in assists (17) and steals (23), with Wright on his heels with 16 assists and 22 steals. Senior veterans Sam Grayeli (Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa HS) and Aaron Harries (Anaheim, Canyon HS) balance out the top five scorers with 18 and 11 goals, respectively.

Ahead for UCLA Men's Water Polo

Day/Date Opponent/Tournament Site Time
Fri., Nov. 6           UC San Diego     Sunset Rec. Center   3 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 8           UC Irvine*       Sunset Rec. Center    Noon
Sun., Nov. 15          @USC*            Los Angeles           Noon
Sat., Nov. 21          USC              Rose Bowl Aquatics     TBA
Fri.-Sun., Nov. 27-29  MPSF Tournament  Newport Beach          TBA
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