The UCLA Men’s Water Polo team begins the 2018 season the same way that the 2017 season ended — as the #1 team in the country. But, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. And, last year, UCLA finished as national champions.
Today, the Bruins start the process of defending their national championship.
As we’ve seen in years past, it looks again like the winner will probably come from the MPSF as the top four spots in the preseason poll are all MPSF rivals. Southern Cal is #2. UC Berkeley is #3. And, Stanford is #4.
Let’s look at some of the changes for this year’s UCLA team.
UCLA lost a lot of talent after last season. For starters, the Bruins lost Max Irving, who had been a linchpin of the team over the past few years. They also lost Jack Grover, Alex Roelse, Matt Farmer, and goalkeeper Aleksandar Ruzic. That’s so much talent that it could make it hard for UCLA to imagine how UCLA held onto the top spot in the preseason poll.
The Bruins have added two transfers. Peter Lovas joins the team after redshirting last year following a transfer from Golden West College while Morio Saito joins the Bruins after transferring from Santa Monica College.
Adam Wright has also brought in a bunch of freshman this year which will try to help replace some of the production lost from last year’s team. This includes goalkeeper Danny Roland and attackers Jake Cavano, Michael Graner, Ashworth Molthen, and Matthew Kacura.
Jack Grover may no longer be playing for the Bruins, but now he will be coaching them after being named an assistant coach by head coach Adam Wright. Grover replaces Ryder Roberts who left the program after last season to pursue a career in a different field. Meanwhile, Alex Roelse has been named an undergraduate assistant coach.
If the Bruins have truly reloaded for 2018, they should compete for another national title.
Look for Nicolas Saveljic and Chasen Travisano to pick up a lot of the slack from the guys who graduated last year. The pair was 4th and 5th in scoring last year, but look for them to become the new leaders of this team, even though they are both sophomores.
Most importantly, look for this team to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament with hopes of picking up another NCAA championship.
The Bruins have a quadrupleheader planned as part of today’s UCLA Invitational. Up first are the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds at 8 am. That’s followed by a game against the Whittier College Poets at 10:30 am. Then, this afternoon, the Bruins will meet the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens at 2:15 pm before closing out the afternoon with an exhibition against Southern Cal.
How do you think this year’s men’s water polo team will do? Share your opinion in the comments below.
This is your UCLA Invitational open thread.