PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 30. BEFORE the match, UCLA water polo senior driver Ted Peck told the school's student paper, The Daily Bruin, that "Stanford is the team I like the least. Over the years, there has been a healthy hatred between us."
Apparently Peck's teammates felt likewise this afternoon on a gloriously warm and picture-perfect day at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, a short pass from the famed stadium itself, as the top-ranked Bruins defeatred the No. 2-ranked Cardinal, 7-4, to run their record to 17-2 overall and 4-zip in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Stanford, led by triple-NCAA Player of the Year and two-time US Olympian Tony Azevedo's four goals, falls to 15-3 overall and 3-1 in MPSF play.
(In a major shocker, No. 7-ranked U Cal Irvine upset No. 3-ranked and defending NCAA champ USC today at home. See story below.)
UCLA is now 2-1 against the Cardinal having beaten Stanford in the finals of the NorCal Tournament earlier this month after bowing to the Cardinal in the SoCal Tourney in September. The win is also UCLA's 11th-consecutive victory, its longest such streak since 1996, when the Bruins went 24-5 and won NCAAs for the second-consecutive season under then Coach Guy Baker — now U.S. women's national headman.
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UCLA senior goalkeeper Joseph Axelrad made a career-high 14 saves and recorded his 300th career stop as the Bruins contiue their quest for their first MPSF title (and first NCAA Championship) since winning back to back national titles in 1999-2000.
Cardinal senior Azevedo scored all four of his team's goals while the Bruins spread out their scoring attack. Beginning with senior Albert Garcia's goal with 4:10 left in the first quarter, UCLA put seven shots past Stanford goalkeeper Chad Taylor and never trailed during the entire match.
The only tie occurred when Azevedo netted an extra-man goal at 5:12 in the second quarter. But the Bruins' Michael March charged back with a score of his own 12 seconds later to give UCLA a 2-1 lead heading into the half.
To open the third quarter, UCLA scored four unanswered goals to take a 6-1 lead. Senior Peter Belden scored the first of the Bruins' third quarter goals at 6:18 after taking a give-and-go pass from Garcia. Seconds later, Josh Hewko lobbed a shot over Taylor's outstretched arms to create a three-point lead at 5:47. Then at 3:58 freshman Matt Jacobs scored on a breakaway one-on-one with Taylor. Thirty seconds later, with UCLA defending a Stanford 6-on-5 advantage, Jacobs again gained possession and drew an ejection from Stanford's Thomas Hopkins. Grant Zider then netted his 12th goal of the season.
The play became just a "tad" rough after that as UCLA's Chris Pulido and Stanford's Ryan Fortune were both hit with game ejections after Pulido was called for a brutality penalty and Fortune received a game misconduct.
Azevedo scored his second goal of the game with under a minute to go after Stanford was awarded a four-meter penalty shot.
The Bruins' Peck scored UCLA's lone fourth-quarter goal while Azevedo made use of another penalty shot to score one of his final two goals.
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UCLA and Stanford have combined for eight NCAA titles in the last decade with each school winning four. Since water polo becaming an official NCAA Champinship sport in 1968, UCLA and Stanford have combined for 17 titles, the Cardinal winning 10 and the Bruins 7. Cal leads with 11 and no school outside California has ever won the national crown. Aside from the "Big Three," USC has a pair of championships with Irvine, U Cal Santa Barbara and Pepperdine the otehr title holders. USC is defending NCAA women's champ too while UCLA won the innagural title three years ago, then repeated in '03 after Stanford won in '02.
UCLA takes on Cal. State Long Beach, coached by Azevedo's father, today (1 PM PST) at the Bruins' Sunset Canyon Recreation Center Pool.
Stanford 0 1 1 2 — 4
UCLA 1 1 4 1 — 7
Stanford Goals: Azevedo 4
UCLA Goals: Garcia, March, Belden, Hewko, M. Jacobs, Zider, Peck
Stanford Saves: Taylor 5
UCLA Saves: Axelrad 14