No. 3 UCLA Opens NCAAs with No. 6 California Baptist
LOS ANGELES – No. 3 UCLA (6-7, 5-5 MPSF) will face No. 6 California Baptist (7-4) in the opening game of the 2020-21 Men's Water Polo NCAA Championship at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Thursday, March 18 at 1:00 p.m. PT. There are no games slated for Friday, March 19. The winner will advance to face No. 1 Stanford (6-3) in the first semifinal at 2:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, March 20. The other opening round game on Thursday (4:00 p.m.) features No. 4 USC (6-8) vs. No. 10 Bucknell (4-1). That winner will face No. 2 California (8-4) in the second semifinal at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. The NCAA Championship game will be on Sunday, March 21 at 2:00 p.m. PT. USC will provide live stats for all games and every game will be streamed live on NCAA.com. Please click here for the NCAA Tournament Central for links to rosters, box scores, live stats, live streams, and game notes for all six competing teams.
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
Thursday, March 18 (Los Angeles, Calif. – Uytengsu Aquatics Center)
1:00 PM PT – No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 California Baptist LIVE STATS | LIVE STREAM
4:00 PM PT – No. 4 USC vs. No. 10 Bucknell
Saturday, March 20 (Los Angeles, Calif. – Uytengsu Aquatics Center)
2:00 PM PT – No. 1 Stanford vs. UCLA/CBU Winner (Semifinal)
5:00 PM PT – No. 2 California vs. USC/Bucknell Winner (Semifinal)
Sunday, March 21 (Los Angeles, Calif. – Uytengsu Aquatics Center)
2:00 PM PT – NCAA Championship Game
This is the 11th meeting all-time between UCLA and California Baptist with the Bruins leading 10-0 in the series. UCLA won the last meeting, 12-6, at home on Oct. 19, 2019. Eight different Bruins scored in that contest, led by four goals from Felix Brozyna-Vilim. Current Bruins that scored against CBU in that contest include two goals from Andy Rodgers and one goal each from Gabe Discipulo, Jake Cavano, and Chasen Travisano. Bernardo Maurizi tended goal in the second half of the game and made seven stops while allowing two scores. Other series records against the NCAA field include 8-0 vs. Bucknell, 90-71-1 vs. California, 89-87-1 vs. USC, and 75-89 vs. Stanford. This year, the Bruins are 2-1 vs. Stanford, 2-3 against USC, and 1-3 vs. California.
UCLA IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
The UCLA men's water polo team will be seeking its 12th NCAA title in the sport and the school's 119th overall. Head Coach Adam Wright has guided the Bruins to NCAA titles in 2014, 2015, and 2017, after winning two NCAA Championships as a player in 1999 and 2000. This is UCLA's 35th NCAA Championship appearance and the first since 2018. The Bruins are 61-27 (.693) all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have also outscored their competition 914-598 (10.4 to 6.8 goals per game) all-time in NCAA Championship history.
BRUINS CLAIM NINE HONORS FOR 2020-21 MPSF SEASON
A school-record-tying eight UCLA Bruins earned All-MPSF accolades as announced by the league office this afternoon. The eight Bruins were also the most by any school in 2020-21. UCLA also had eight student-athletes earn All-MPSF accolades in 2016. UCLA was led by senior attacker Nicolas Saveljic and junior attacker/utility Jake Cavano, who were both named to the first team for the first time in their careers. Freshman attacker Mo Kenney was named the 2020-21 MPSF Newcomer of the Year. He is just the second Bruin all-time to earn that distinction, joining Garrett Danner from the 2013 season. Four Bruins were named second team All-MPSF, which accounted for half of the selections in the league, and included sophomore attacker Tommy Gruwell, redshirt junior utility Evan Rosenfeld, sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi, and Kenney. Sophomore center Gabe Discipulo and senior attacker Chasen Travisano garnered honorable mention All-MPSF honors. It marked the first time in their careers that they have earned all-league recognition.
SAVELJIC LONE BRUIN NAMED TO MPSF ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Senior Nicolas Saveljic (Kotor, Montenegro/Maritime School Kotor) was the lone Bruins named to the 2020-21 MPSF All-Tournament team.
SAVELJIC NAMED MPSF/KAP7 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior Nicolas Saveljic (Kotor, Montenegro/Maritime School Kotor) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Player of the Week on Feb. 8 by the league office. Saveljic led all MPSF players in goals (11) and total points (12) this week at the USC Round Robin as the Bruins finished the weekend with victories over No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 USC and an overtime loss to No. 2 California. He was also tied for second in the tournament in steals with seven. He wrote himself into the MPSF record books, tying the all-time MPSF record for goals in a conference game and was one shy of tying the single game record by an MPSF player in any game with a career-high eight goals (on 11 shots) in the win over No. 1 Stanford. Only two other players have scored eight goals in a game in league play (Ben Hallock, Stanford vs. California on 11/9/19 and Jeff Colyer, Long Beach State vs. UC Santa Barbara on 11/3/96). Additionally, it was the most-ever goals by a Bruin since Ryder Roberts scored seven goals in a win at No. 9 Pepperdine on Oct. 22, 2015. Saveljic also recorded two steals, drew one exclusion, and had one assist in the win over the Cardinal. In the overtime loss to the Golden Bears, Saveljic tallied two goals and two steals while winning one sprint. He had the eventual game-winning goal against the Trojans late in the third quarter, his only score of the contest. He also won his only sprint and tallied three steals against USC, two of which came on Trojan power plays. He jumped up to second in the MPSF in scoring with 19 goals on the year.
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 is currently tied for 7th on the UCLA career charts in scoring with 158 goals (tied with Ryder Roberts (2013-16) and currently leads the Bruins with 31 goals on the year, which is second in the MPSF and fifth in the nation. He needs five goals to pass Fernando Carsalade for sixth (162 goals, 1985-88). Saveljic already ranks sixth on the Bruins' career list in steals with 101, needing five to pass Max Irving (105 steals, 2014-17) for fifth. He leads the MPSF in steals and is tied for second nationally.
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 273-54 (.835) and an MPSF mark of 58-21 (.734). 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 at third in this week's CWPA National Men's Varsity Top 10 Poll (90 points), released on Mar. 17.
|2020-21 MEN'S VARSITY TOP 10 (Week 8 - Mar. 17)|
|Rank||Team||Last Week's Poll||Points|
|8 (T)||Air Force||8 (T)||63|
|8 (T)||San Jose State||8 (T)||63|
|10 (T)||Bucknell||10 (T)||52|
|10 (T)||Navy||10 (T)||52|
|RV||Mount St. Mary's||RV||14|