All Four Top Two Teams to Compete at USC
LOS ANGELES – No. 2 UCLA (3-2, 2-2 MPSF) heads crosstown to No. 2 USC (2-2, 2-2 MPSF) to compete in the USC Round Robing on Feb. 6-7. The Bruins will open with No. 2 California (2-2, 2-2 MPSF) on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1:30 p.m. PT. UCLA will open play on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 10:00 a.m. PT against No. 1 Stanford (0-0, 0-0 MPSF). The Bruins will close out the round robin tournament with No. 2 USC (2-2, 2-2 MPSF) on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. PT at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. All games will be streamed as well as have live stats (links provided below).
This is 161st meeting all-time between UCLA and California with the Bruins holding a 90-69-1 (.566) lead in the series. UCLA split a pair of games to open the 2020-21 season in Berkeley, Calif., falling to the Golden Bears on Jan. 23 by a score of 17-16 in overtime. UCLA responded the following day to post a 10-7 victory.
This is the 175th meeting all-time between UCLA and USC with the Bruins holding an 88-85-1 (.509) series edge. UCLA split a pair of games to open the 2020-21 season in Berkeley, Calif., falling to the Trojans on Jan. 23 by a score of 12-7. UCLA rebounded the following day to post an 11-8 victory.
This is the 162nd meeting all-time between UCLA and Stanford with the Cardinal holding an 88-73 (.453) lead in the series. UCLA lost all three meetings last year, falling to Stanford in the title game of the SoCal Invitational, 13-9, on Sept. 29. The Cardinal then posted a 17-11 win at home over the Bruins in the final regular season game on Nov. 16. Stanford would complete the season sweep in the semifinals of the MPSF Championship in Berkeley, Calif., with a 16-15 win in overtime on Nov. 23.
KENNEY NAMED MPSF/KAP7 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Freshman Mo Kenney (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Harbor HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Player of the Week on Feb. 1 by the league office. Kenney made his collegiate debut and scored a game-high five goals on just six shots in leading the No. 2 Bruins to a 15-9 home-opening win over No. 5 Pepperdine (Jan. 30). Kenney scored at least one goal in every quarter, including two scores in the fourth period. Four of his goals were scored at even strength and one was converted on a power play. He was also credited with one assist and one steal. This is the first career MPSF honor for Kenney.
PULICE NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Freshman Tanner Pulice (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 1 by the league office. Pulice scored two goals and assisted on two others to rack up four points in the Bruins' 15-9 win over No. 5 Pepperdine (Jan. 30). Pulice opened the scoring with a power play goal at the 5:58 mark of the first period. He also scored the first goal of the second half with a strike from the front court with 6:29 to go in the third period. He won his only sprint to open the game and also drew one exclusion in the opening period. This is the first career MPSF honor for Pulice.
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 eight goals to crack the UCLA top 10 career charts. He currently has 135 in his collegiate career (Krsto Sbutega, 143 goals, 2005-08). Saveljic already ranks sixth on the Bruins' career list in steals with 83.
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 270-49 (.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.
POLLING THE BRUINS
UCLA, which finished fifth in the final poll of the 2019 season, remained in a tie for second in this week's CWPA National Men's Varsity Top 10 Poll (92 points), released on Feb. 3.
|2020-21 MEN'S VARSITY TOP 10 (Week 2 - Feb. 2)|
|Rank||Team||Last Week's Poll||Points|
|2 (T)||UCLA||2 (T)||92|
|2 (T)||USC||2 (T)||92|
|2 (T)||California||2 (T)||92|
|7||California Baptist University||7||66|
|RV||San Jose State||NR||47|
|RV||Penn State Behrend||RV||1|