100 down. So, why not 100 more to go?
Okay, okay, no one's getting crazy here, but it's nice to be looking forward. And it's hard not to think about national championships when the subject turns to the Bruins woman's water polo team, our very own dynasty of the water world.
A year ago next week, the lady Bruins brought us No. 100.
Now, the Bruins, led by Cutino Award finalists Courtney Matthewson and Jillian Kraus, and winners of three consecutive NCAA championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007, look to make it four in a row by capturing their 10th national title overall.
By the way, these kinds of stats are just ridiculous:
LOOKING FOR A FOUR-PEAT: The three-time defending NCAA Champion Bruins are seeking an unprecedented four-peat and their 10th national women's water polo title. Since the first NCAA Championship in 2001, UCLA has won five of the seven titles (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007), with only Stanford in 2002 and USC in 2004 being able to break the stranglehold UCLA has on the NCAA trophy. Prior to women's water polo becoming an NCAA-sanctioned championship, UCLA won national titles in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000.
And the lady Bruins have it rolling again this year, riding a perfect 30-0 record after capturing their second-straight MPSF Championship after just another win against USC (their 3rd of the season).
Senior Jillian Kraus; Photo by Kyle Lishok
For those of you who haven't been following our lady Bruins, here's a tournament preview of UCLA by the Bootleg:
About the Bruins:
UCLA has put together an amazing season this year, after winning national championships each of the last three years. They look to become the first team to go undefeated since 2005. Coach Adam Krikorian, in his tenth year, brings a veteran team led by junior Katie Rulon with 58 goals, senior Jillian Kraus with 54 goals, senior Courtney Mathewson with 50 goals, senior Brittany Rowe with 48 goals, and junior Tanya Gandy with 42 goals. Mathewson and Kraus shared MPSF Player of the Year honors, and junior goalkeeper Brittany Fullen sports a 4.77 GAA. The Bruins have shown chinks in their armor -- winning by just one goal three times, including an overtime victory over Stanford in the UC-Irvine Invitational.
How they got here: UCLA beat USC 8-7 in the MPSF Tournament finals to earn the automatic bid. They are undefeated and were the obvious choice for the top overall seed.
Outlook in the tournament: The Bruins will have the easiest trip to the championship game. After a warmup against Pomona-Pitzer on Friday, they should have little trouble with the winner of the San Diego-UC Davis game. They can thus put all of their energy into preparing for either Stanford or USC, which have each almost beat UCLA this season. In the end though, UCLA’s combination of toughness, all-around offensive capabilities, and veteran leaders may be too much for any team to solve.
This year's NCAA Tournament begins today with a 5:00 p.m. matchup against Pomona-Pitzer (17-11) at Avery Aquatic Center at Stanford (the No. 2 seed). The Sagehens, the only Division III team in the tournament, will have their hands full with the Bruins.
Pomona-Pitzer earned the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s automatic bid to Palo Alto last weekend with an 8-7 win over Cal Lutheran in its conference’s tournament final. Despite going 8-1 in their conference regular season, the Sagehens were 0-2 against teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the conference that has brought UCLA and three other at-large teams to the NCAA title table.
The game today will be broadcast live on www.uclabruins.com. And, should the Bruins advance, here is the schedule for the rest of the weekend:
On Friday, May 9 at 5 pm, UCLA will broadcasting live the 5 pm quarterfinal match between the top-seeded Bruins and eighth-seeded Pomona-Pitzer. Should UCLA win, the match on Saturday, May 10 between UCLA and either San Diego State or UC Davis will be broadcast live at 4 pm. The second semi-final, which is expected to be between #2 seed Stanford and #3 seed USC, will also be broadcast live at 5:45 pm. Should UCLA reach the championship match, it will be broadcast live at 6 pm on Sunday, May 11.
This should be an interesting weekend. Good luck ladies,