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Bruin Bites: UCLA Women's Soccer Juggernaut Rolls, Other

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It was an excellent week for UCLA athletics. The Football team regained control of its own destiny, the Men's Basketball team drew 11,921 fans to Pauley Pavilion, the #1 Women's Soccer team steamrolled its first round NCAA opponent on the road to Florida, the #1 Men's Water Polo team completed the regular season as conference champs, and the Men's Water Polo wrapped up the regular season with the NCAA's on the horizon.

Our all-time NCAA recordholder for career shutouts- Katelyn Rowland
Our all-time NCAA recordholder for career shutouts- Katelyn Rowland
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One more detail with the information above. It took two games for the Men's Basketball team to attract 11,921 fans to OPUG. The line between revenue and non-revenue sports becomes increasingly fuzzy as Doughnut's reign of error continues. Hence the term Olympic Sports for the teams drawing a bead on Title 112.

--- First up, the incredibly solid Women's Soccer team. These are not Coach Amanda Cromwell's recruits. But they are Coach Cromwell's players. Since coming to Westwood in April, 2013, Coach Cromwell's Bruins have won 41 matches, have lost one match (!!) and have had five draws. Let me repeat-  41-1-5. This is how you perform as a national power. The team has won two conference titles, and has won one national championship and counting. Last year, on the way to the national title, UCLA scored 51 goals and allowed eight. This year, UCLA has scored 59 goals and allowed four. The Bruins have not given up a goal since October 9. Last year, the Bruins outshot their opponents 444-184. This year, the Bruins have outshot their opponents 404-108.

The latest victim of the Bruin onslaught was USD on Friday night. This was a rematch of an August 31 match, when the Bruins did not score until the 56th minute, and won 2-0. On Friday night, it was a far different story. UCLA scored three goals before the 13th minute, and cruised to a 5-0 victory. This is how champions are made.

Senior Abby Dahlkemper opened the scoring with her first goal of the season in the 6th minute off a corner kick. Senior Rosie White added her sixth goal less than 100 seconds later with an assist by Dahlkemper. And junior Taylor Smith finished the initial flurry with her eighth goal. The Bruins added two more goals in the second half. Senior Kylie McCarthy scored her sixth goal in the 52nd minute, and senior Sam Mewis scored her team leading 15th goal on a penalty kick in the 54th minute.

The Bruins outshot USD 25-3. And senior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland added another clean sheet to her total, setting an NCAA career record with 53 shutouts and counting. Here is the official website recap of the game.

Dahlkemper is the Pac-12 defender of the year, a four-time 1st team Pac-12 honoree, and the 2013 Honda Women's Soccer nominee. Mewis is the Pac-12 player of the year, and earned 1st team Pac-12 honors after three seasons as a 2nd team selection. Rowland is the Pac-12 goalkeeper of the year, and earned 1st team Pac-12 honors for the second straight season. And last, but not least, Coach Cromwell is the Pac-12 coach of the year. She is the defending national coach of the year, and this team is performing at an even higher level (last year's team actually lost a match).

There were 1,555 fans in attendance at the USD match. That is a respectable turnout, and was the highest of any of the four #1 seeds. But we can do better. The next chance to see this remarkable group comes this Friday.

There is a doubleheader at Drake, with UCLA playing Harvard at 8 pm. Before the UCLA-Harvard match, #4 bracket seed Pepperdine plays Illinois State at 5 pm. The winners of these two matches play on Sunday at Drake, with the match beginning at 1 pm.

Here is the link for ticket information, per the official website. Only click on this link if you want to cry. As of 11:30 on Monday morning, a full two days after the teams were known for this weekend's matches, clicking on "Tickets", then "Single Match Tickets" sends you to a page with all the info you could ever want on tickets for the match which took place three days ago !!

I know this is like a broken record, but if Doughnut gets near a team photo with his shiny bald pate, I will be pissed. He has not done crap to support this team. And this is without question the best team in the country, the defending national champions, and a very special group of players who are giving their all for the school. And what does Doughnut offer as support in return? Nada.

----I could go on and on about women's soccer, but there is another program which is at the top of the charts on the national scene- Men's Water Polo. The #1 Bruins wrapped up the regular season with a convincing 16-8 pounding of #4 Long Beach State on Saturday night. This was senior's night, and the Bruins rose to the occasion. Sophomore center Gordon Marshall led the Bruins with four goals. But seniors Cristiano Mirachi (three goals), Paul Reynolds (two goals), Chris Fahlsing and Daniel Lenhart all entered the scoring column in the last regular season game of their UCLA careers. Here is the game summary from the official website.

UCLA is hot at the right time, with seven straight victories, including wins over #2 Stanford and #3 $C. The Bruins have not lost since October 12. This is not quite as impressive as not allowing a goal since October 9, but it is truly impressive nonetheless. The Bruins have come close in recent years, but have not grabbed the brass ring since 2004. Hopefully, this will be the breakthrough year for Coach Adam Wright and his team.

Next up for the Bruins is the all-important MPSF tournament. The collegiate men's water polo scene is dominated by the MPSF. The top five teams in the national rankings are members of the MPSF. Winning the conference tourney can be harder than winning the national tourney, because the national tourney includes automatic selections from lesser conferences. And as the regular season champ, the Bruins get the #1 seed in the conference tourney.

This has two advantages. First, with a nine team conference, the #1 seed gets to face the winner of a play-in game. While every other team will play one match on the opening day, UCLA's opponent will play two. And while the #1 seed would play the #4 seed in the semi's, the #2 and #3 seeds will face each other in the semi's if things go according to plan.

This year, there are three teams who are clearly heads and shoulders above the rest of the field- UCLA, Stanford and $C. And if the seeds perform as expected, UCLA will face Long Beach State again in the semi's while either Stanford or $C gets knocked out by the other team.

The MPSF tourney is being hosted by Long Beach State this year. UCLA's first match will be 3 pm Friday, against the winner of #7 (national ranking) Pacific vs. #10 UCSB. Pacific and UCSB meet at 8:30 am Friday morning. If UCLA wins Friday's match, it is on to the semi's on Saturday, and hopefully the finals on Sunday. After that, it is on to the NCAA's.

--- Speaking of the NCAA's, the Men's Soccer team wrapped up the regular season yesterday, and now advance to the NCAA tournament for the 32nd consecutive season. The Bruins beat San Diego State 2-1, to finish the season 11-4-4. UCLA finished conference play 6-2-2, and lost the conference title to Stanford, thanks in no small measure to an inexplicable series sweep loss at the hands of Berkeley. Here is the game summary for Sunday's match.

This men's soccer team is truly an enigma, in comparison to the women's team and basically on par in terms of enigmas with topics like how TIARA got a contract extension and how Doughnut keeps his job. This team could go all the way (sure hope so) or could get bounced early. We shall see.

The men's NCAA soccer field has 48 teams, with the top 16 seeds getting 1st round byes. And the selection committee was clearly impressed by UCLA's body of work, despite not winning the conference title, as the Bruins received the #2 national seed (behind Notre Dame at #1). Just to show how much of an enigma this team is, UCLA received the #2 seed and the conference champion Stanford received the #6 seed. The committee was understandably as confused by this team as the fans were.

As the #2 seed, the Bruins get a first round bye, and will start their 2014 NCAA campaign at Drake Stadium on Sunday (hopefully on the same day as the women's team against the winner of Pepperdine-Illinois State). UCLA's men's team will face the winner of the match between USD (home team) and Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins lost 1-0 to USD in late September and did not face Fullerton. The 1-0 loss to a team which did not receive one of the 16 national seeds is just another marker in the inconsistent season. Hopefully, the Bruins will take advantage of the opportunity for payback, and move forward from Sunday to the next round of the tournament.

--- That takes care of Bruin Bites for this Monday. Please fire away with your comments and observations. All signs point to a special fall season for UCLA athletics.

Go Bruins !!