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No. 2 UCLA Hosts No. 5 Pepperdine in Home Opener

Jan 28, 2021
Senior Nicolas Saveljic scored a season- and career-high tying four goals in last season's win against Pepperdine.

2020-21 Information Guide

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LOS ANGELES – No. 2 UCLA (2-2, 2-2 MPSF) hosts No. 5 Pepperdine (2-0, 0-0 GCC) in the 2020-21 home opener and the only game this week for the Bruins on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 11:00 a.m. PT at Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center. The game will be streamed as well as have live stats (links provided below).

Saturday, January 30 (Los Angeles – Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center)
11:00 AM PT – No. 5 Pepperdine at No. 2 UCLA LIVE STREAM | LIVE STATS

Pepperdine returns a talented group from last season's Golden Coast Conference championship squad. The Waves return two-time All-American Balazs Kosa, who led the GCC in goals (93), assists (47) and total points (140) in 2019. Pepperdine also returns Curtis Jarvis (48 goals) and Sean Ferrari (30 goals). Pepperdine opened the 2020-21 season with a 16-9 win over #18 Air Force on Jan. 23 and then followed that with a 12-7 victory at home over the Falcons later that day.

This is 114th meeting all-time between UCLA and Pepperdine with the Bruins holding an 81-31-1 (.721) lead in the series. UCLA won the only meeting last year, 14-12, in Malibu, Calif., on Sept. 21. Nicolas Saveljic led the Bruins to their 19th consecutive win over the Waves by scoring a season-high and career-high-tying four goals.

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 10 goals to crack the UCLA top 10 career charts. He currently has 133 in his collegiate career (Krsto Sbutega, 143 goals, 2005-08). Saveljic already ranks seventh on the Bruins' career list in steals with 80.

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.

Adam Wright is in his 12th season as UCLA's head men's water polo coach in 2020-21 with an overall record of 269-49 (.846) and an MPSF mark of 55-18(.753). 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.

UCLA, which finished fifth in the final poll of the 2019 season, moved up one spot to a tie for second in this week's CWPA National Men's Varsity Top 10 Poll (91 points), released on Jan. 27.

 2020-21 MEN'S VARSITY TOP 10 (Preseason - Jan. 27)
 Rank  Team  Preseason 2020-21 Poll  Points
 1  Stanford  1 (T)  96
 2 (T)  UCLA  3  91
 2 (T)  USC  1 (T)  91
 2 (T)  California  5  91
 5  Pepperdine  4  82
 6  Loyola Marymount  9 (T)  72
 7  California Baptist University  11  66
 8  Bucknell  9 (T)  65
 9  Navy  14  57
 10  George Washington  13  56
 RV  Air Force  18  52
 RV  Santa Clara  17  48
 RV  Fordham  16  46
 RV  Iona  RV  32
 RV  Fresno Pacific  RV  28
 RV  Gannon  RV  22
 RV  La Salle  RV  16
 RV  Mercyhurst  RV  13
 RV  Austin College  NR  8
 RV  Salem University  NR  7
 RV  McKendree University  NR  6
 RV  Penn State Behrend  NR  4
 RV  Washington & Jefferson College  NR  3