No. 3 UCLA Opens 2020-21 Season at No. 5 California
LOS ANGELES – No. 3 UCLA (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) opens the 2020-21 season at No. 5 California (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) with four league games this weekend. While in Berkeley, Calif., the Bruins will face the Golden Bears twice and top-ranked USC (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) twice. The action begins with UCLA at Cal on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 10:30 a.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bruins will wrap up the day with the Trojans at 6:30 p.m. UCLA will return the following day to face USC at 2:30 p.m. followed by another meeting with Cal at 6:30 p.m. The Golden Bears will stream all games that they are playing and will provide live stats on TheFosh.net for all games (links provided below).
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
Saturday, January 23 (Berkeley, Calif. – Spieker Aquatics Complex)
10:30 AM PT – No. 3 UCLA at No. 5 California LIVE STREAM | LIVE STATS
6:30 PM PT – No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 1 USC LIVE STATS
This is 159th meeting all-time between UCLA and California with the Bruins holding an 89-68-1 (.566) lead in the series. UCLA won both meetings last year, including a 12-9 win in the quarterfinals of the SoCal Invitational at UCLA (Sept. 28) and a 10-9 victory in league play at home (Nov. 2). The Golden Bears won the last meeting in Berkeley, Calif., 9-7, on Oct. 27.
This is the 173rd meeting all-time between UCLA and USC with the Bruins holding an 87-84-1 (.509) series edge. The Trojans won both meetings a year ago, spoiling the Bruins' Senior Day, 10-7, on Nov. 9 and then posting a 10-6 win in the MPSF third-place game on Nov. 24. USC has won the last three meetings, which includes an 8-7 win in the NCAA semifinals in 2018 (Dec. 1). The Bruins' last win was on the Trojans' Senior Day (Nov. 18, 2018) when UCLA held USC to just four goals as Chasen Travisano and Austin Rone each scored two of UCLA's seven goals.
UCLA 2020-21 OUTLOOK
UCLA returns four of its top five scorers and also eight of the top 10 from the 2019 season, including first team All-American and first team All-MPSF selection Felix Brozyna-Vilim (33 goals, 73 drawn exclusions/19 penalty). The Bruins also return a pair of third team All-Americans in Jake Cavano (led the team in scoring with 42 goals) and Tommy Gruwell (fifth on the squad in scoring with 26 goals).
The only All-American from 2019 UCLA lost was senior goalkeeper Alex Wolf. A three-time All-American, Wolf earned his second-consecutive selection to the first team. He finished the season with 179 saves in 17 starts with a goals against average of 9.00. He was also named second team All-MPSF in 2019.
The Bruins also return 2019 second team All-MPSF selection Nicolas Saveljic, who finished the year fourth on the team in scoring with 31 goals. UCLA also returns the services of 2018 second team All-MPSF and second team All-American Evan Rosenfeld, who played in all 28 matches that year after missing the entire 2019 campaign with an undisclosed injury. Other prominent players returning for UCLA include 2019 backup goalie Bernardo Maurizi (6.90 goals against average), sophomore attacker Jack White (19 goals), sophomore attacker Andy Rodgers (17 goals), sophomore center Gabe Discipulo (15 goals) and senior attacker Chasen Travisano (nine goals).
Arriving in Westwood this season and looking to make an immediate impact is Mo Kenney (6-3, ATK, Newport Harbor HS), Tanner Pulice (5-10, ATK, Corona del Mar HS), Ethan Shipman (6-2, ATK, Harvard-Westlake School), Guillermo Ocasio (6-2, UTL, Servite HS), and Maximo Rossi (6-6, UTL, Mater Dei HS).
UCLA will also get a boost in goal from USC transfer Sam Krutonog, who sat out last year, and from true freshman Garret Griggs (6-8, GK, Riverside Poly HS). The Bruins also return redshirt freshman Chase Honaker (6-3, GK, St. Mark's School of Texas).
The Bruins ended the 2019 season with a 17-5 overall record.
UCLA also lost first team All-MPSF performer and second-leading scorer, Ashworth Molthen (38 goals) and attacker Matthew Kacura (23 goals).
The UCLA Men's Water Polo roster for the 2020-21 season will feature a lot of young talent as 83.3 percent (25-of-30) of the student-athletes are underclassmen. The Bruins sport 14 freshmen (three redshirts) and have 11 sophomores (four redshirts) on the 30-man roster for the upcoming season. UCLA only has five upperclassmen, which includes seniors Felix Brozyna-Vilim, Chasen Travisano, and Nicolas Saveljic. The Bruins welcome back two juniors, including Evan Rosenfeld (2019 redshirt) and Jake Cavano.
Senior attacker Nicolas Saveljic needs just 16 goals to crack the UCLA top 10 career charts. He currently has 127 in his collegiate career (Krsto Sbutega, 143 goals, 2005-08). Saveljic already ranks eighth on the Bruins' career list in steals with 77.
During the offseason, UCLA men's water polo hired Jack Grover to the post of assistant coach (replacing Bret Lathrope). Grover returns for his second stint and his second overall season as the assistant coach.
THE WRIGHT STUFF
Adam Wright is in his 12th season as UCLA's head men's water polo coach in 2020-21 with an overall record of 267-47 (.850) and an MPSF mark of 53-16 (.768). His teams earned perfect APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores of 1,000 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 while winning the school's 112th, 113th and 114th NCAA Championships in 2014, 2015 and 2017. On July 20, 2017, then-UCLA Director of Athletics, Dan Guerrero, announced that Wright will guide both the UCLA men's and women's water polo teams. Wright was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame on June 20, 2019, and to the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020.
Overall Record: 17-5 | Final Ranking: 5th| NCAA Finish: n/a | MPSF Tournament Finish: 4th
The Bruins finished the season with a second-place finish at the SoCal Invitational but dropped their final two games of the MPSF Tournament and were snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee despite being the only team in the country to go undefeated against Pacific, Pepperdine, and UC Santa Barbara (combined 4-0). UCLA's team had a school-record 14 student-athletes earn ACWPC All-Academic accolades, while four Bruins earned All-America acclaim (headlined by first-team selections Alex Wolf and Felix Brozyna-Vilim). Attackers Jake Cavano and Tommy Gruwell each picked up third-team All-America honors. Bruins' head coach Adam Wright was also inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
POLLING THE BRUINS
UCLA, which finished fifth in the final poll of the 2019 season, opens the season third in the preseason CWPA National Men's Varsity Top 20 Poll (92 points), released on Dec. 30.
|2020-21 MEN'S VARSITY TOP 20 (Preseason - Dec. 30)|
|Rank||Team||Final 2019 Poll||Points|
|1 (T)||USC||2 (T)||97|
|6||UC Santa Barbara||6||74|
|8||UC San Diego||12||60|
|9 (T)||Loyola Marymount||16||52|
|13||George Washington||17 (T)||36|
|15||San José State||13||29|
|17||Santa Clara||19 (T)||20|
|RV||Connecticut College/Fresno Pacific||NR||2|