For at least one team in UCLA's invitational water polo tournament, it was altogether fitting that the competition was held at a recreation center. The Harvard Water Polo Foundation had a picnic last weekend, sailing through four opponents undefeated and smothering most of them at UCLA's Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
The only fortunate thing for the college teams that had to play Harvard, a local club team composed primarily of ex-college stars, was that their losses don't count against their records.
Sixth-ranked UCLA was the lone team to test the visitors, losing to them on Saturday, 7-6. The Harvard coach, Rich Corso, also coaches water polo at North Hollywood Harvard School, from which the club team takes its name.
Among the college teams, UCLA, which raised its overall record to 8-6, was undefeated and wound up second in the tournament standings at 4-1. The tournament records for the other college teams: 11th-ranked Air Force, 2-2; UCSD, 1-2; Loyola Marymount, 1-3, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 0-4.
Alex Rousseau, UCLA's two-time All-American hole man (the equivalent of a center in basketball), led the third annual tournament in scoring with 16 goals. Other top scorers and their total goals were Robert Lynn of Harvard, 13; Vince Herron of UCLA, 10; Hank Peterson of Harvard, 9, and Tim Waggoner of Loyola Marymount, 8.
Rousseau, a senior, is one of three returning starters from Coach Bob Horn's 1988 Bruins, who finished second to California in last year's NCAA tournament. The others are senior drivers Marcelo Carsalade, a Brazilian and strong defensive player, and Mark Maretski, another top scorer.
But Carsalade has been out of action for three weeks, his ear drum punctured when a teammate inadvertently hit him with a hand or elbow in practice.
With only two regulars on his first seven and a lot of newcomers, Horn said his players have been spending a lot of time getting used to each other. He said the tournament, aside from UCLA's four victories, was good for his players because "we were able to smooth out some areas," including counterattacks and defensive and offensive formations.
Horn said opposing teams have been concentrating their defensive efforts on Rousseau and Maretski and he has been "trying to get the other guys to shoot more to take some of the burden off" the two high-scoring seniors.
UCLA won two matches with ease Sunday, defeating Air Force, 15-4, and Loyola Marymount, 19-4. Consequently, Horn was able to rest Rousseau and Maretski for long periods Sunday and give his newcomers more playing time.
Against Air Force and Loyola and in Saturday's 20-3 win over Claremont, Rousseau said, the Bruins were able to rehearse formations for their next three matches against strong teams: Stanford, Pepperdine and top-ranked UC Irvine. "The newer guys were (also) getting in on the scoring," he added.