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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 5, 2002

UCLA's Brooks saves best for last

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Brandon Brooks' collegiate water polo career has come to a splashing conclusion.

Punahou grad Brandon Brooks, an All-America goalkeeper at UCLA, became the school's career saves leader in his final game Sunday.

Jeff Sipsey • UCLA

It will not end in the national championship game like it did the past three years — with two NCAA titles — but UCLA's All-America goalkeeper finished his senior season by:

• Making 13 saves to lead an 8-6 upset of No. 1-ranked Stanford Sunday in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.

• With those saves, Brooks became UCLA's career saves leader with 700, surpassing 695 by Matt Swanson.

• On Monday, he beat out stars from higher-profile sports to be named UCLABruins.com's Student-Athlete of the Week for the first time.

• On Tuesday, he was named All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation first-team goalkeeper.

Brooks, a 1999 Punahou School graduate, took it all in stride. "It's been fun, I had a good run. I made the most of it, and it's time to be done," he said, adding "I owe everything to my parents."

When he broke UCLA's career saves record Sunday, the game at the Olympic Training Center in Los Alamitos was stopped and the game ball was presented to Brooks. It was later given to his family, Diamond Head residents who were seeing him play on the Mainland for the first time.

Brooks led the MPSF with 9.87 saves per game, playing all but 3 minutes, 42 seconds of a 23-game season. (UCLA went 15-8.)

His 6.83 goals-allowed average is seventh lowest in UCLA history.

"His play always was solid, and at times remarkable," said UCLA coach Adam Krikorian. "There is no one I would rather have in goal than Brandon."

Although UCLA beat Stanford, the Cardinal (22-5) was awarded the at-large berth in the NCAA final four. California won the MPSF's automatic berth.

Next for Brooks is a decision on whether to try to make the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.

If he does not rejoin the national team, for which he played in 2001, Brooks expects to graduate with a degree in economics in 2004.

NOTE: Brooks had hoped to play basketball for UCLA this season, as he did his freshman year, but a NCAA rule on scholarships prevented it. Because of abuse by colleges that tried to use scholarships in Olympic sports for football and basketball players, NCAA rules demand that football and basketball players have scholarships in those sports or none at all. Brooks is on scholarship for water polo and UCLA does not have any available basketball scholarships. "He loves basketball and it's a shame that he can't play," Krikorian said.