No. 1 UCLA Faces Two Tough Road Tests
LOS ANGELES – No. 1 UCLA (7-0, 0-0 MPSF) hits the road this week for a pair of big road games at Golden Coast Conference teams. The Bruins will open at No. 6 Long Beach State (8-0, 0-0 GCC) on Friday, Sept. 17 at 7:00 p.m. PT. Then the Bruins will be at No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (8-1, 0-0 GCC) on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6:00 p.m. PT. (that game time has recently changed ... it was originally slated for 7:00 p.m.). While Long Beach State said it is welcoming back fans, UC Santa Barbara posted this: Due to extended COVID mitigation efforts on campus, there will be no public sale of tickets for either of the two home matches this week against UCSD and UCLA on Sept. 18 and guests will be limited to player family and friends.
Saturday, Sept. 18 (Santa Barbara, Calif. – Campus Pool)
6:00 PM PT – No. 1 UCLA at No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (Live Stats)
ALL-TIME SERIES HISTORY
UCLA vs. Long Beach State: 102-21-1 (UCLA won the last meeting, 11-7, at home on Oct. 4, 2021).
UCLA vs. UC Santa Barbara: 106-17-1 (UCLA won the last meeting, 14-12, in the final game of the Triton Invitational at UCSD on Sept. 5, 2021)
A CHAMPIONSHIP PROGRAM
The UCLA Bruins captured their 12th NCAA Championship in men's water polo with a 7-6 win at USC on Mar. 21 at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The win also marked the 119th NCAA Championship for the UCLA Athletic Department. It was a balanced scoring effort by the Bruins, who received goals from six different players. Junior Jake Cavano, who was named to the first team All-NCAA Tournament, scored two goals, including the eventual difference maker with 6:23 left in the game. Sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi, who also was named first team All-NCAA Tournament, held the Trojans scoreless throughout the first half and racked up nine saves. UCLA never trailed in the game, though USC briefly pulled even at 4-4. Nicolas Saveljic was named the NCAA Tournament MVP.
SAVELJIC NAMED CUTINO AWARD WINNER
The Olympic Club announced on Sept. 2 that UCLA graduate student Nicolas Saveljic has been named the 2020-21 Peter J. Cutino Award winner. The Cutino Award is an iconic honor in NCAA water polo that recognizes the best men's and women's players each year. Saveljic became the first Bruin to claim the prize since goalkeeper Garrett Danner in 2016. He is also just the third different Bruin and the fourth overall winner on the UCLA men's side. Sean Kern is the only other Bruin to win the Cutino Award, and he did it twice in 1998 and 1999. Saveljic helped the Bruins win the 2020 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, the 12th in UCLA's storied history. Named a first-team All-American and a CoSIDA first-team Academic All-American in 2020, Saveljic led the Bruins and the MPSF and was second in the NCAA in scoring with 37 goals in 16 games (2.3 goals per game). He was also third in assists on the team (10) to finish as the overall leading scorer on the squad with 47 points. He also led the team, the MPSF, and the NCAA in steals with 30 on the year. The reigning NCAA Player of the Year, Saveljic moved into sixth place on the UCLA career scoring charts with 164 goals. Saveljic wrote himself into the MPSF record books last season when he tied 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 in a 15-13 win over then-No. 1 Stanford on Feb. 7, 2021. 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.
DODD NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK AGAIN
UCLA freshman Chase Dodd (Long Beach, CA/Huntington Beach HS) has been named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week as announced by the league office (Sept. 13). Dodd accumulated five goals across three Bruin wins last week, netting one against No. 13 UC Irvine (Sept. 10), one against No. 8 UC San Diego (Sept. 11), and three vs. No. 19 Pomona-Pitzer (Sept. 11). Dodd added one assist, two steals, and drew two exclusions against the Anteaters and tallied a pair of steals against the Tritons. He has scored in each of his first seven collegiate games and leads the Bruins with 13 goals on the year. This is Dodd's second consecutive career MPSF weekly award, repeating the honor from his collegiate debut last week.
DODD NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
UCLA freshman Chase Dodd (Long Beach, CA/Huntington Beach HS) has been named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week as announced by the league office (Sept. 6). Dodd scored in each of his first four collegiate games, leading the top-ranked Bruins with eight goals as the team went 4-0 at the UC San Diego Invitational (Sept. 4-5). Dodd scored twice vs. Biola and once vs. Whittier on Saturday. Then on Sunday, he scored two goals against No. 14 California Baptist and three in a 14-12 comeback win vs. No. 6 UC Santa Barbara. Two of his three goals vs. the Gauchos came as the game-tying and game-winning scores with less than three minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Dodd added one assist, one field block and drew one exclusion against UCSB. This was Dodd's first career MPSF weekly award.
UCLA PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN MPSF
For the first time since 2010, four teams earned a first-place vote in the MPSF Men's Water Polo Preseason Coaches' Poll, with USC narrowly prevailing in the 2021 edition. The Trojans collected 22 points and two votes at the top. Defending NCAA Champion UCLA also picked up a pair of first-place votes in the poll with 21 points to place second. Stanford earned 17 points and one first-place vote for third while California tallied 16 points and the remaining first-place vote to finish fourth. Austin College (9) and Penn State Behrend (5) rounded out the poll, set to make a fourth and sixth appearance in the MPSF Championship Tournament, respectively.
Graduate student-athlete Nicolas Saveljic, the 2020 ACWPC Player of the Year, was the only Bruin selected as a first team All-American. Three Bruins were named second team All-American, which included Evan Rosenfeld, Jake Cavano, and Bernardo Maurizi. Rosenfeld, a redshirt senior utility, was named a second team All-American for the second time in his career (also in 2018). Rosenfeld had 12 goals and 18 points while drawing 13 exclusions and tallying nine steals on the year. Cavano, a senior attacker/utility, earned All-America honors for the third time in his career after being named a third team All-American in 2018 and 2019. He was third on the team in scoring with 22 goals, which ranked sixth in the MPSF. He also finished the season with 30 points and 13 steals. Maurizi, a junior goalkeeper, earned All-America honors for the first time in his career after leading the team, the MPSF, and the NCAA in saves with 143 on the year (10.2 saves per game). His 10.2 goals against average ranked fifth in the MPSF. He also finished fourth on the team in assists (eight) and second on the team, in the MPSF and third in the NCAA in steals with 26 on the year (1.9 steals per game). The final Bruin honored was junior attacker Tommy Gruwell, who earned honorable mention All-America accolades this season after being named as a third-teamer a year ago. Gruwell was second on the team and fifth in the MPSF in scoring with 23 goals. He was also second on the team in scoring with 34 points and second in drawn exclusions (18).
UCLA 2021 OUTLOOK
UCLA returns every starter and its top 16 scorers from the 2020 NCAA Championship team for the 2021 campaign. The Bruins also regain the services of 2019 first team All-American center and first team All-MPSF selection Felix Brozyna-Vilim (33 goals, 73 drawn exclusions (19 penalty)) who opted out of last season. The Bruins also return the 2020 NCAA Player of the Year, Nicolas Saveljic. Saveljic was the only Bruin selected as a first team All-American in 2020. He led the Bruins and the MPSF and was second in the NCAA in scoring with 37 goals in 16 games (2.3 goals per game). He was also third in assists on the team (10) to finish as the overall leading scorer on the squad with 47 points. He also led the team, the MPSF, and the NCAA in steals with 30 on the year.
Three second-team All-Americans return, which include redshirt senior utility Evan Rosenfeld (12 goals), senior attacker/utility Jake Cavano (22 goals), and junior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi (10.2 saves per game, 10.2 goals against average).
Junior attacker Tommy Gruwell (23 goals, 34 points) also returns after being named an honorable mention All-American last season.
The Bruins also return a lot of talent that will provide much-needed depth at all positions. Starting in the cage, the Bruins return goalies Chase Honaker (three appearances in 2020) and Garret Griggs (two appearances in 2020). At utility, a trio returns this season that includes Guillermo Ocasio (three goals in four games), Giorgio Alessandria (two goals in eight games), and Maximo Rossi (scoreless in six appearances). Defender/utility Cameron Reagan (two goals in 16 games) also brings versatility and experience to the Bruins' lineup. Gabe Discipulo (14 goals in 16 games) will give a boost to the Bruins at two meters.
The largest group returning can be found at the attacker position. This group includes Makoto Kenney (20 goals in 12 games, MPSF Newcomer of the Year), Tanner Pulice (10 goals in 14 games), Chasen Travisano (nine goals in 16 games), Andy Rodgers (six goals in 14 games), Hayden Nightingale (four goals in 14 games), Jack Larsen (four goals in 16 games), Ryan Sawyer (one goal in six games), Ethan Shipman (one goal in four games), Max Berg (zero goals in one game), and Jack White (redshirted last season).
The only player UCLA lost from the 2020 campaign was junior defender Bailey Jarvis (nine games played, one goal).
Arriving in Westwood this season and looking to make an immediate impact are freshmen Ethan Crooks (6-0, ATK, Huntington Beach HS), Gianpiero Di Martire (6-1, ATK, Naples, Italy), Chase Dodd (6-3, ATK, Huntington Beach HS), Trey Doten (6-4, ATK, Davis Senior HS), Griffin Engstrom (6-5, UTL, Loyola HS), Anthony Gross (6-4, ATK, Granite Bay HS), Mark Laurlund (6-4, ATK, Monte Vista HS), Eli Liechty (6-4, CTR, Newport Harbor HS), and Grant Loth (6-4, CTR, Mater Dei HS).
THE WRIGHT STUFF
After guiding the Bruins to the NCAA Championship in 2020 and being named the ACWPC National Coach of the Year, Adam Wright returns for his 13th season as UCLA's head men's water polo coach in 2021 with an overall record of 283-54 (.840) 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: 9-7 | Final Ranking: 1st | NCAA Finish: 1st | MPSF Tournament Finish: 4th
The UCLA Bruins captured their 12th NCAA Championship in men's water polo with a 7-6 win at USC on Mar. 21, 2021 at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The win also marked the 119th NCAA Championship for the UCLA Athletic Department.
POLLING THE BRUINS
UCLA, which finished first in the final poll of the 2020 season, remains at No. 1 in this week's CWPA National Men's Varsity Top 20 Poll (97 points), released on Sept. 15.
|2021 MEN'S VARSITY TOP 20 (Week 2 - Sept. 15)|
|Rank||Team||Final 2020 Poll||Points|
|5||UC Santa Barbara||5||81|
|6||Long Beach State||6||73|
|9||UC San Diego||8||60|
|11 (T)||San Jose State||11||48|
|19||California Baptist University||14||14|