OK, I’m not sure there are any UCLA fans on this website (nor am I sure there are any fans of Portland, Penn St., etc.). But I enjoy this board. And I love this time of year. At this late moment of preseason, I feel compelled to begin this thread. For goodness sakes, most polls have UCLA preseason #1 this year, including the prestigious Average and Median polls. Some thoughts on the 2006 UCLA Bruins… As a couple of the polls and a few of the articles have stated, UCLA has been perhaps the most consistent team in the nation the last three years. But they haven’t been able to win the big one at the end. Two years ago, Coach Ellis amazingly got the Bruins to the final when they weren’t expected to make it near that far. Last year with more talent, they had a remarkable run, but ran into a buzz saw named Portland at the end. This year, UCLA appears especially talented, final four experienced, and motivated to win the whole thing. The loss of Kara Lang is bigger than some admit. UCLA’s depth has been affected. However, the starting lineup will be strong because there’s an abundance of offensive players, including the top recruit for ’06, Lauren Chaney. The lineup may go something like the following. All but one of these players listed have national youth team experience: Lauren Cheney, Bristyn Davis, Christina DiMartino, Danesha Adams, McCall Zerboni, and Stacy Lindstrom are likely starters in the forward and midfield positions. On defense, two ’06 recruits join two returning players: Lauren Wilmoth, Lauren Switzer, Erin Hardy and Mary Castelanelli. In goal will be Valerie Henderson. The bench includes a bunch of talent including Stephanie Kron, Caitlin Ursini, Caitlyn Mac Kechnie, and Kristina Larsen. SoccerBuzz stated that UCLA could go undefeated. That’s a stretch for any team. But the challenge for UCLA is out of the gate difficult given that UCLA has 5 players absent for the first four games due to being in Russia playing for the US Under 20 National Team. When they return, it will be a matter of gelling. All returning players have final four experience, and they are seriously motivated because of the NCAA Final result last year against Portland. But this team is also motivated by another reason to win the championship: to be the UCLA team that wins the 100th national championship for UCLA Athletics. Don’t discount that motivation. Of course, this is all on paper. Teams have to be good and lucky to go far in the playoffs. They have to win or tie games they don’t deserve, and not lose games they deserve to win throughout the year and in the playoffs. We’ll see if UCLA can pull it off. Go Bruins!