NCAA Men's Water Polo: Clash of the Titans Redux -- October 26, 2002
PASADENA, CA., October 26. IT will be the "Clash of the Titans -- Redux" this afternoon when the No. 1-ranked Stanford men's water polo teams battles No. 2 UCLA for the second time in six days.
The "monumental" Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match precedes the UCLA - Stanford football game. Face-off is set for 1 PM PDT in the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center pool, and rain is in the forecast.
Stanford, defending NCAA champ, defeated UCLA 7-5 last Sunday afternoon at Palo Alto, the fifth-consecutive time the Cardinal has beaten the Bruins dating back prior to last December's NCAA finals at Stanford.
The Cardinal. 16-2, 2-1 for the season, has lost only to USC and Pepperdine. The Bruins, 9-5 and 1-2, have beaten the Trojans (although in non-conference play) but bowed to Pepperdine in four overtimes at home a
couple of weeks ago.
"If people want to watch the two best teams in the nation play each other they better get to the Rose Bowl early," says UCLA coach Adam Krikorian, who
guided the Bruins to the NCAA Championship two years and was a co-coach, along with Guy Baker, for the squad the preceding year -- and that team too also won the national collegiate championship.
In their match last Sunday, Cardinal All-America and U.S. Olympian Tony Azevedo, last season's Player of the Year his freshman season, was held scoreless for the first time in his stay on The Farm by UCLA junior driver Albert Garcia.
Still, the Bruins came up short, so what does Garcia have planned for an encore?
"He's a player like anyone else, and he's not perfect," Garcia said. "By defensively doing a good job on them, Stanford is definitely beatable."
"It's a big game for us and a must win if we're to stay in the race for a possible conference title and bid to the NCAAs," Bruin senior defenseman Matt Flesher added. "We need to execute on goals and stick to our game plan."
UCLA is led by sophomore driver Brett Ormsby, this week's MPSF Player of the Week. It was the third time he's earned that honor during his career in Westwood. He scored a hat trick in the Bruins' win over Cal Saturday and added a pair of goals against Stanford.
Stanford's pressure defense, which rookie coach John Vargas stresses, has been instrumental in the Cardinal outscoring its opponents by a 229-105 margin. On offense, Azevedo is a one-man wrecking crew with 59 goals and a 3.2 goals per game average, far and away No. 1 nationally.
In the cage, Cardinal All-America goalie Nick Ellis has a 6.2 saves per game average with 105 overall.
"Ir's going to probably be one of our toughest and most intense games of the season," Garcia said. "We had a close one with them last week, and we now want to make a statement."
"A win is achieved by buying into the system our coaches have been instilling in us all season," sophomore center Ted Peck observed. We know that
one-on-one we are better than [Stanford] but we just need to take the gifts that they give us."
The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center is located just south of the Rose Bowl itself in the same parking lot. The football game is schedueld to kickoff at 3:30 PM so fans can see a double-header and not miss a minute of either.
-- Bill Bell