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Bruin Bites: Olympic Sports Teams Show How to Put Away the Competition

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There are UCLA teams which know how to get ahead and stay ahead, regardless of the level of competition. They just don't happen to play in the Rose Bowl. The Women's and Men's Soccer teams and the Men's Water Polo team showed how it is done, in a big week for Olympic Sports.

Sam Mewis on the ball for the #1 UCLA Women's Soccer team
Sam Mewis on the ball for the #1 UCLA Women's Soccer team
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As we ponder how there could only be 24 college football teams which are better than the UCLA squad which played in Boulder on Saturday, we turn to UCLA's Olympic sports teams to show how top-notch teams really perform.

--- First, in a showdown of top ranked programs, #3 UCLA beat #1 Stanford in Men's Water Polo on Friday at home. There are four teams at the top of the men's collegiate water polo world- UCLA, Stanford, $C and UC Berkeley, all of whom compete in the MPSF. There is then a pretty big drop off. With only six slots available in the NCAA tourney, four of which go to conference champions, finishing in the top three in MPSF is critical. And finishing in the top two seeds provides a bye in the first round of the NCAA tourney. So any time two of the big four meet, it is a big deal.

And the Bruins demonstrated that they belong at the top of any list of top teams by taking down Stanford 7-6. UCLA is now 2-1 this season against Stanford, 1-1 against $C, and 1-0 against UC Berkeley. In the 7-6 win, the teams were tied at the end of the first period 1-1. The Bruins then scored twice to take a 3-1 lead, Stanford cut it to 3-2, UCLA scored again to make the score 4-2, and Stanford scored the final goal of the first half, as UCLA took a 4-3 lead into the break.

Stanford knotted the score 4-4 with the first goal of the 3rd period, at which point the Bruins scored three unanswered goals to take a 7-4 lead early in the final period. At this point, the Bruins went into a defensive shell, letting the 30 second shot clock expire on offense to preserve the lead. This tends to work as well in water polo as it does in football. The result was a Stanford comeback, to make the score 7-6 with Stanford having the last shot to send the game to overtime. But the UCLA defense came up big on the final position, and the Bruins had a fantastic 7-6 victory.

Six different Bruins scored, a testament to a real team effort, with sophomore center Gordon Marshall scoring twice. And sophomore goalie Garrett Danner came up big with several great saves, particularly when Stanford had power play advantages. Here is the recap from the official website.

If this was one of the revenue sports, UCLA would have probably followed up the big win on Friday with a pratfall on Sunday against a lesser opponent. But this is an Olympic sport with a UCLA team that knows how to put opponents away. So on Sunday, the Bruins traveled to Santa Barbara and dispatched the #7 Gauchos 10-7.

The Bruins jumped out to 4-0 lead in the first quarter, and a 6-1 lead at the halftime break. UCLA stretched the margin to 8-3 in the second half. Then things got way too interesting, as UCSB scored three straight goals to cut the lead to 8-6. The Bruins then took care of business again, scoring twice more for a 10-6 lead, on the way to the eventual 10-7 victory.

Five Bruins scored two goals each to account for UCLA's 10 goals- junior defender Anthony Daboub, Gordon Marshall, junior Danny McClintick, senior Cristiano Mirachi, and senior attacker Paul Reynolds. Here is the recap from the UCSB website. I would have liked to use a UCLA recap, but there isn't a final score, let alone a recap, on the UCLA site three hours after the match ended. Doughnut is apparently confused because he hasn't seen any seahorses around, so has no idea how the water polo team can play- hence the lack of support from Morgan Center.

The Bruins now get a breather for the rest of the week, before another big showdown, this time on Sunday night, November 2, at $C. UCLA is now 21-2, and is undefeated in conference play with a 5-0 record.

--- The #1 UCLA Women's Soccer team headed to the state of Oregon for the first two of the final five regular season games, all on the road. And after going up 17-0 in the first quarter, the Bruins went to sleep and allowed the other team to tie the game at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime !! Wait- wrong sport. This is women's soccer, a sport where the Bruins don't take their foot off the pedal with a lead.

First up was Oregon State on Friday night. After a scoreless first half, senior midfielder Sarah Killion converted a penalty kick in the 1st minute of the second half. The Bruins broke the game open with two more goals within three minutes, as senior midfielder Sam Mewis scored her team-leading 11th goal in the 72nd minute and senior forward Kylie McCarthy finished the scoring in the 75th minute. Shots- UCLA 23, Oregon State 4. And another clean sheet for senior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. Here is the recap from the UCLA website. Since the game was played on Friday, the website was on top of this by Sunday.

But Sunday's game at Oregon? You want news the same day a match is played? So do we. So we turn to the Daily Emerald, for a report on the match. The Bruins won handily 5-0. Senior Caprice Dydasco opened the scoring in the 9th minute, and Kylie McCarthy made the score 2-0 two minutes later. Junior forward Taylor Smith scored in the 39th minute to make the score 3-0 at the break.

Sam Mewis scored her 12th and 13th goals of the season in the second half, for a final score of 5-0 Bruins. UCLA outshot Oregon 17-4, and Katelyn Rowland had another clean sheet. So for the two games, the Bruins outscored their opponents 8-0, and outshot their opponents 40-8. That is domination. Next up is a trip to the state of Washington, for afternoon matches Friday in Pullman against #24 Washington State and Sunday in Seattle against #18 Washington. The Bruins will welcome back senior forward Rosie White, who was absent from the Oregon games to help New Zealand advance in World Cup qualifying. UCLA is now 15-0-2, 7-0-1 in conference play.

--- #6 Men's Soccer had an excellent week as well, with victories at #4 Washington and at Oregon State. The Pac-12 only has a six team conference in men's soccer, so the result is multiple matches against the same teams in conference play. When UCLA played Washington the first time on October 16 at home, Washington was #1 in the country, and the Bruins knocked the Huskies off 2-1. They met again on October 23 in Seattle. And the Bruins came away with another 2-1 win. Washington scored first in the 3rd minute (yikes), but the Bruins bounced back with a goal by senior defender Aaron Simmons in the 37th minute, to send the teams to the halftime break tied at 1 apiece. The only goal of the second half came from freshman Seyi Adekoya, playing in front of his hometown fans, as he scored in the 54th minute. Here is the recap from the UCLA site.

On Sunday, UCLA traveled to Corvallis for the second match in seven days against Oregon State. The Bruins led at the break 1-0, thanks to a goal in the 8th minute from senior forward Andrew Tusaazemajia. UCLA went up 2-0 on a goal by junior forward Larry Ndjock in the 51st minute. Oregon State scored in the 84th minute to make the final score 2-1 Bruins. In probably the biggest upset of the weekend, Morgan Center was able to publish a recap of the game within hours of the final whistle.

UCLA has now won four in a row after a lost weekend in Northern California. The Bruins are now 10-3-3, and sit alone in first place in the conference with a 4-1-1 record. This weekend will provide a chance for revenge for the lost weekend, as the Bruins host #11 Stanford on Thursday night and #14 Berkeley on Sunday evening.

Number 112 looks like a more realistic possibility with every passing week. Here's to these UCLA teams, which are demonstrating how to finish strong.

Go Bruins !!