Let’s avoid the UCLA Football Sunday blues by discussing the team which is currently UCLA’s most successful men’s team — Water Polo. After all, in the recent US News and World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, this is what the publication had to say:
The UCLA Bruins compete in the Pac-12 Conference of NCAA’s Division I and are well known for their successful men’s and women’s water polo teams.
That should tell you a lot about the state of the UCLA Athletic Department. But, we digress.
Yesterday, the #4 UCLA Men’s Water Polo team fought hard and won not once, but twice!
In the first game, they faced #5 Pacific and, as you would expect from a matchup between #4 and #5, it was close. In fact, the Bruins didn’t get their game-winning goal until Matt Farmer scored with just 48 seconds left.
Farmer’s goal gave the Bruins a 9-7 edge and, while the Tigers were able to get one more shot past goalie Alex Wolf, they could not get another in the final minute to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Farmer, Alex Roelse, and Evan Rosenfeld each scored two goals for the Bruins while Max Irving, Austin Rone and Nicolas Saveljic each added one.
In the second game, which was the first Mountain Pacific Invitational semifinal, the Bruins faced off against current #1 and defending national champion UC Berkeley. Befitting a match between the past two national champs, this one was a knockdown dragout game.
The Golden Bears got on the board first with a goal from Luca Cupido, but UCLA came with power play goals from Chasen Travisano and Saveljic to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead after the first quarter. Luke Henriksson scored with 3:09 left in the half to give UCLA a 3-1 edge, but the Bears answered with a power play goal of their own from Vassilis Tzavaras and it was 3-2 at the half.
Saveljic and Tzavaras and Roelse alternated power play goals in the third while Cupido added his second goal of the game and it was 5-4 after three.
Odysseas Masmanidis tied it up with a goal for UC Berkeley with 6:47 to go. More than four minutes later, Irving scored the potential game-winner for the Bruins with 2:24 to go, but it wasn’t to be as, just over a minute later, Johnny Hooper’s penalty shot went by UCLA goalie Alex Wolf.
That sent the game into overtime. In college water polo, overtime consists of two 3-minute OT periods. In the first overtime, Cupido gave the Golden Bears the 7-6 edge, but the Bruins responded with goals from Farmer and Saveljic in the first OT and another goal from Jack Grover in the second to retake the lead 9-7. Cupido’s fourth goal of the game with about a minute to go closed the gap to 9-8 but the Bears couldn’t get off another shot in the final minute and UCLA prevailed.
In the second semi-final, Southern Cal topped Stanford 11-10 in regulation to set up today’s championship game between the Bruins and the Trojans.
This is your Mountain Pacific Invitational championship game open thread.