Wednesday, March 20

Sixth-seeded water polo off


Sixth-seeded water polo off

to national championships

By Emmanuelle Ejercito

Eight teams will travel to the University of Maryland to vie for
the 1995 Women’s Collegiate National Water Polo Championship this
weekend. Though UCLA enters the tournament as its sixth seed, when
the waters settle the Bruins hope to have gained some valuable
experience.

The eight teams are divided into two equal brackets. The Bruins
are in bracket "B" along with second-seeded Slippery Rock,
third-seeded San Diego State and seventh-seeded Harvard. The "A"
bracket will include top-seeded UC Davis, UC San Diego (No. 4
seed), Michigan and Maryland. The top two finishers in each bracket
will have a chance to compete for the national title on Sunday.

UCLA plays in today’s first match against SDSU.

"I think we have an excellent opportunity to win the National
Championship," Aztec head coach Deena Deardurff Schmidt said. "We
have five games and each game will be extremely important in
preparing for the next one."

The Aztecs (20-7), who finished second to UC Davis in the
Western Zone Qualifying Tournament, are 2-0 against the Bruins this
season.

"San Diego State is a tough game for us to win right off the
bat," UCLA head coach Guy Baker said. "So we’re going to
concentrate on our second game."

The second game will pit the Bruins against Slippery Rock. This
will be the first time this season that UCLA faces a team from the
East Coast.

"We’ve got a good opportunity against Slippery Rock to beat them
and squeak into the Final Four," Baker said.

However, if statistics indicate anything, Slippery Rock will be
a formidable opponent. Slippery Rock has an overall record of 21-1,
with the only loss coming against Michigan State. Slippery Rock
averages about 15 goals per game.

"They have been playing teams from back east. They haven’t
really played any close games or that good of a competition," Baker
said. "I think if we can keep the game close in the fourth quarter,
I don’t think that they will be used to that. We’ve been working on
a couple of new defenses and we’re going to throw it in and see if
it works."

This will also be the first time that Slippery Rock has faced
West Coast teams this season. However, Slippery Rock hopes to
repeat last year’s successes. In the 1994 tournament, Slippery Rock
had a 3-1 record against teams from the west.

"On the East Coast water polo is like a chess match," Slippery
Rock head coach Dick Hunkler said. "What you do is you look at
other teams’ strengths and weaknesses and what you try to do is
adjust to those. I think UCLA is a young team, and it’s a spirited
team and I think that they will do well."

In its first match on Saturday, UCLA will play its last bracket
match against Harvard (15-4).

The first-year Bruins look forward to gaining experience in
their first national championship tournament.

"Every game is an adventure for us," Baker said. "There won’t be
any easy games at all."

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