I don't know how many of our Bruin Fans have ever watched a water polo game...apart from kids sporting events, tonight on CBS-C was my first spectator view of a water polo game on TV...and what an introduction it was, with Ucla bringing down #101 with a dominating defensive performance over our arch-rivals.
UCLA won its fourth consecutive and sixth overall NCAA women's water polo title on Sunday evening, defeating USC, 6-3, in the championship match. The victory was UCLA's 10th national title and UCLA's 101st NCAA title. Bruin seniors Gabrielle Domanic, Brittany Rowe, Courtney Mathewson, Jillian Kraus and Kamaile Crowell finished their careers with four NCAA titles and a pair of undefeated seasons.
Frankly it was almost as pleasurable as watching Ben Ball, with the Bruins' defensive effort being just intense and incredible, holding an SC team that averaged more than 10 goals per game to 3 tonight. Every time the Trojans seemed like they were making a run, our defense just got more intense.
For those who are unfamiliar with water polo, action in the game is similar to hockey, there are six players on offense and one goalie. There are minor fouls that happen all the time, but a major foul causes a player to get ejected and there is a subsequent "power play" where the team that has a player ejected has a one player deficit. Am sure that the stats will be in the write-up after the game, but SC had about 13 or more 6 on 5 opportunities and only scored on one or two - it really seemed like every time we got in a tough spot, the defensive intensity of the remaining five kicked up several levels and Ucla pulled out the stop. And although Ucla had way fewer of these opportunities, it seemed like our players were smarter and more skilled and converted on the slightest mistakes from the Trojans.
It was particularly interesting to listen to the interview of Ucla water polo coach Adam Krikorian after the game. He clearly comes from the same lineage of classy coaches that we expect from Ucla, giving credit to the team, his fellow coaching staff, and the sports administration support and downplaying his personal efforts...but check this bio out and you will see that he is a phenomenally good coach...
There may not be another head coach in any sport throughout the country who has accomplished more than Adam Krikorian in such a short span. In his 16 years with UCLA's water polo program as both a player and a coach, Krikorian has won an unprecedented 13 national titles - nine as a head coach, three as an assistant coach and one as a student-athlete.
This spring, Krikorian enters his 10th season as head coach of the UCLA women's water polo team and his ninth alone at the helm. In 1999, he served as interim head coach while was coaching the U.S. Women's National Team.
As women's water polo head coach, Krikorian has guided UCLA to six national championships (five NCAA titles) and boasts a remarkable .858 winning percentage (229-38 record). Krikorian's women's water polo teams have won 88 percent of their conference matches and have finished with a perfect 12-0 MPSF record once (in 2005).
A former standout on the men's water polo team from 1992-95, Krikorian has earned National Women's Water Polo Coach of the Year honors four times - in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Krikorian gained National Men's Coach of the Year honors in 2004 after having led that men's squad to its eighth NCAA championship in program history.
I would encourage any of you who have the opportunity to catch a rerun of this game, it's not a high profile sport but Coach Krikorian and this group of seniors who have won four consecutive national championships with two undefeated seasons deserve huge accolades from the Bruin Nation.