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Bruin Bites: Soccer Seasons Start, Hall of Fame Class of 2014

The defending national champion Women's Soccer team opened regular season play with a pair of wins and the Men's Soccer team romped in the season exhibition openers. Meanwhile, the UCLA Hall of Fame class of 2014 was announced. These honorees add to UCLA's unmatched record of excellence. Now if we could just remove some imposters from Morgan Center and the OPUG sidelines.

UCLA's #22 Sam Mewis back for more in 2014
UCLA's #22 Sam Mewis back for more in 2014
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

---- The defending national champion and #1 ranked Women's Soccer team breezed to a 3-0 victory over Maryland in the season opener on Friday night. In a truly absurd stat, UCLA outshot Maryland 22-0 !  Senior defender Megan Oyster opened the scoring with a header off a corner kick. Senior defender and national team member Sam Mewis scored 30 seconds later. Senior forward and New Zealand Olympian Rosie White scored the third and final goal for the Bruins. This is looking like another strong season for the Bruins. As those who watched the World Cup can attest, the best team does not always win in soccer, with goals against the flow of play, weird penalty decisions, etc. But being the best team doesn't hurt. And so far, UCLA looks like a deserving #1.

The Bruins followed up Friday night's win with a home win over UC Irvine on Sunday night, by the identical score of 3-0. Goals were scored by junior forward Taylor Smith in the 28th minute, Sam Mewis in the 77th minute, and Pac-12 freshman of the year and now sophomore forward Darian Jenkins in the 83rd minute. Senior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland tied a school record with her 38th clean sheet.

Next up is a huge showdown against perennial power and #4 ranked North Carolina at Drake Stadium on Friday night. #6 Stanford went to Chapel Hill and took down the Tar Heels 1-0 on Friday night, so the Bruins will need to make their own statement at home.

---- The #4 ranked Men's Soccer team played two exhibition matches. First up was a 5-2 win over Nebraska Omaha. And Saturday night, UCLA beat the inaptly named Los Angeles All-Stars 10-0. Nine different Bruins scored at least one goal in the two matches combined, led by sophomore forward Kevin De La Torre's hat trick against the All-Stars. Senior midfielder Leo Stolz, 1st team All-American and Pac-12 player of the year last season, picked up where he left off, with two goals on penalty kicks and four assists. Other multiple goal scorers this week were redshirt junior defender Edgar Contreras (beginning his UCLA career after playing at Taft College), junior midfielder Jordan Vale, and freshman forward Seyi Adekoya (from Seattle). Adekoya started his collegiate career with a bang, after playing for the Seattle Sounders Academy team- thank you Sigi Schmid?

The Men's team takes to the road to start the regular season with two high profile matches. Friday night, the Bruins will take on #11 Wake Forest, and Sunday night the Bruins face #22 North Carolina. The Women's team is already 1-0 against the ACC, with a chance to make it 2-0 this Friday. 4-0 for both teams combined against the ACC would work.

---- There are seven new members of the UCLA Hall of Fame, as announced last week. These honorees will be introduced at halftime of the Oregon football game, so we will be able to express our appreciation for their achievements while at UCLA.

In alphabetical order, the first inductee is Guy Baker, the water polo coach from 1991 through 2001. Baker's teams won seven national titles, three on the women's side before this became an NCAA sport, and four on the men's side which count in our 111 total. Baker brought the men's program back from the dead after it had been dropped, and started the women's program. Women's water polo was the most successful program in terms of national titles in the 2000's under Adam Krikorian. But none of this would have been possible without the foundation laid by Guy Baker. Thank you Guy.

Next is triple jumper James Butts, who competed for UCLA in the early '70's. Not to date myself, but I had the pleasure of watching Butts during his freshman 1971 season. Butts was part of two NCAA championship teams, and won the NCAA outdoor title in the triple jump in 1972. Butts went on to win the silver medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

Joanna Hayes is another Bruin Track & Field star who achieved success at the highest stage. Hayes was a member of three conference champion teams and two NCAA runner-up teams, while competing for UCLA in the hurdles in the late 90's. Hayes won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. After coaching Harvard-Westlake in recent years, Hayes is returning to campus this year as an assistant UCLA coach in sprints, hurdles and relays. Let's hope that Joanna can help bring UCLA back to the heights we used to reach in days of yore.

Returning to the soccer theme, Joe-Max Moore is next up in the UCLA Hall of Fame class of 2014. Moore was a member of the national championship 1990 Bruin squad. That team won the national semifinals and finals on shots from the penalty spot. And Moore converted his shots in both games, to help the team win the title. He was the leading scorer on the 1991 and 1992 UCLA teams. Moore went on to national glory, earning over 100 caps while competing for the USAMNT at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups. Earlier this summer, we saw how the game has changed in terms of the mark which collegiate players can make (or not make) on World Cup squads. But how is this for a team loaded with future World Cup members? The 1990 UCLA squad included Moore, Cobi Jones, Brad Friedel and Mike Lapper, all of whom were on the 1994 squad which hosted the World Cup.

Francis Wai was a UCLA star, who as so many before and since, went on to make a much bigger mark in the world after his playing days. He played four sports at UCLA, including QB for Coach Spaulding in 1937 and 1938. But his true character shone in WWII, as he was a hero in the initial stages of the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines. Here is a link to a Military Times article which details Wai's actions. Wai was recognized posthumously for his heroics, with the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was the first American of Chinese descent, and the first UCLA student-athlete, to receive this highest award. Definitely a Bruin hero off the field.

Natasha Watley was a four time All-American softball player for UCLA in the early 2000's. The 2003 team won the national championship, in her senior season. After that season, she won the award as the best female collegiate athlete in the country, not just in softball but in any sport. Watley went on to win a gold medal in Athens in 2004 as part of the winning US national softball team.

Last, but not least, Onnie Willis was a member of three NCAA champion gymnastics teams at UCLA in the early 2000's. She became UCLA's first ever all-around champion in 2001, and capped her senior season in 2003 with the award as the best NCAA gymnast in the country. Willis went on to earn a PhD at NYU, so she clearly was able to hit her routines and the books in an unbeatable combo.

Here is to all the honorees. Every class of Hall of Fame members is a reminder of the special place which UCLA occupies in terms of athletics, academics, and impact beyond the classroom.

Go Bruins !!