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Bruins Set to Defend Kap7 NorCal Classic Championship

Sep 17, 2014

The No. 2 UCLA men's water polo team (8-0) returns to action this weekend when it travels to Stockton, Calif., to defend its NorCal Tournament title at the Kap7 NorCal Classic, hosted by Pacific. The Bruins open with Pomona-Pitzer at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Chris Kjeldsen Pool. If they win, the Bruins will face the winner of No. 6 Pacific and No. 11 UC Davis at the same pool at 2:40 p.m. The losers of the two games will meet in the consolation quarterfinals at 1:20 p.m.

Last year, No. 2 UCLA improved to 11-0 on the season with a 9-8 win over No. 1 USC (11-1) in the NorCal Tournament title match. The victory over the Trojans ended USC's 41-game winning streak, dating back to the 2011 season. Then redshirt junior Cristiano Mirarchi nailed the game-winner from the front court with 2:47 left to provide the final score of 9-8, marking the Bruins' first NorCal title since 2004.

Under the tutelage of sixth-year head coach Adam Wright (130-27, .828), the Bruins have raced to an 8-0 start by outscoring their opponents 163-24 and defeating three ranked teams along the way.

UCLA enters the weekend as the best defensive team in the country as its three goalkeepers have a combined 3.00 goals against average, led by sophomore Garrett Danner's 2.82 gaa. But Danner, the normal starter hasn't played 30% of UCLA's quarters to rank among the MPSF leaders. So that leaves a pair of UCLA senior goalies at the top of the rankings. James Hartshorne is first at 2.91 gaa followed by Stephen White, who has a goals against average of 3.20, which ranks second. Hartshorne's 10.19 saves per game ranks fourth in the MPSF while White ranks eighth at 8.64 saves per game. Danner has 18 saves in 8.5 quarters played for an average of 8.47 saves per game.

UCLA is currently averaging 20.38 goals per game, which ranks third in the MPSF behind USC (21.25 gpg) and Stanford (21.00 gpg). While the Bruin starters have only played half of the games heading into the weekend, UCLA has the most players in the Top 20 in the league in scoring with six. Senior utility Cristiano Mirarchi is currently second with 17 goals in four games (4.25 gpg). Senior attacker Paul Reynolds and redshirt freshman attacker Jesse Camou are currently tied for 8th with 12 goals in four games (3.00 gpg). Redshirt freshman attacker James Robinson is 14th with nine goals in four games (2.25 gpg) while junior utility Danny McClintick is 15th in scoring with 11 goals in five games (2.20 gpg). Freshman utility Alex Roelse is the only Bruin to score at least one goal in all eight games this year and comes in at No. 18 with 15 goals (1.88 gpg) joining Irving and Mirarchi as the only four Bruins to score at least one goal in all four games so far this season.

The Bruins maintained their second place national ranking (95 points), just behind No. 1 Stanford (3-0, 97 points) and just ahead of No. 3 USC (8-0, 93 points) in this week's CWPA Men's Varsity Top 20 Poll. California (5-0, 86 points) and Long Beach State (6-0, 80 points) round out the top five.

For ticket information for the Kap7 NorCal Classic at Pacific, click here. For a schedule of all games, parking and ticket information and directions to both sites of the tournament, click here.

BREAKING DOWN THE TOP FIVE SEEDS
#1 STANFORD (3-0 Overall, 0-0 MPSF) kicked-off its season with a 20-8 win over Concordia at the UCLA Invitational, as well as Pomona-Pitzer 21-5 and Redlands 22-4 at Sunday's Inland Empire Classic. Freshman Cody Smith made his Cardinal debut, totaling 11 goals over the three wins (3.67 GPG), topping out with five against Pomona. The Cardinal meets Redlands, followed by either UC Irvine or UC San Diego Saturday at Delta College.

#2 UCLA (8-0 Overall, 0-0 MPSF) went unbeaten in its second-straight tournament this past weekend, taking care of Whittier 21-3, Claremont 13-7, Occidental 23-2, and La Verne 24-1. The game against the Poets was part of the UCLA Invitational, while the other three contests occurred in the Inland Empire Classic at La Verne. Freshman Jesse Camou debuted for the Bruins, combining for 12 goals over the four wins, six against the Leopards. UCLA, who has outscored its opponents 163-24 in the 8-0 start, is seeded second in the NorCal Tournament and first plays Pomona-Pitzer at Pacific.

#3 USC (8-0 Overall, 0-0 MPSF) swept through its second-straight tournament this past weekend to begin the 2014 season, easily getting by Occidental 24-0, Chapman 21-6, Air Force 25-7, and Concordia 20-6 at the Inland Empire Classic hosted by La Verne and Redlands. Freshman Matteo Morelli accumulated 14 goals over the four wins, including a high of five against Chapman. Grant Stein totaled nine goals on day two against the Eagles and Falcons. The third-seeded Trojans, outscoring its opponents 170-37 in the 8-0 start, face Air Force in their first NorCal game Saturday at Pacific.

#4 CALIFORNIA (5-0 Overall, 0-0 MPSF) defeated UC Davis in its home opener this past Saturday, 17-7, taking an unbeaten record to the NorCal Tournament, where it first plays Santa Clara at Delta College. Aleksa Saponjic and Conor Neumann each recorded hat tricks against the Aggies. The Bears tallied seven goals in the first quarter to gain early control of the contest, while goalkeeper Jon Sibley held UC Davis to four goals in three quarters of action on the other end of the pool.

#5 LONG BEACH STATE (6-0 Overall, 0-0 MPSF) is seeded fifth in the NorCal Tournament, first meeting MPSF opponent Pepperdine at Delta College. The 49ers stayed unbeaten with two Sunday victories in the Inland Empire Classic, defeating Whittier 16-7 and Claremont 18-5, and have outscored the opposition 104-35 through the 6-0 start.