Saturday, October 21

Men’s water polo place third in the SoCal Tournament, defeating No. 1 USC


Emma Coghlan / Daily Bruin

Correction: The original headline contained an error. UCLA beat USC in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.

After a third-round loss to California on Sunday, the Bruins had mere hours to regroup and prepare for their third-place game against rival USC.

“I told them we had to forget, move on and be ready to go. They did, and that shows a lot about their character,” coach Adam Wright said. “They rallied and played as a group.”

The No. 2 ranked Bruins managed to conquer the No. 1 Trojans and take the third-place title. It was the UCLA’s first win over USC since September 2009.

No. 4 Stanford managed to beat out No. 3 California in the final and take first place. The Cardinal won 10-9 in overtime.

Redshirt freshman Daniel Lenhart and junior attacker Bret Lathrope led the Bruins in scoring, with six goals each over the course of the tournament.

Over the two days and four games of play, 12 different team members contributed to the team’s 41 goals.

In the first two rounds of play on Saturday, the Bruins beat their opponents soundly with an 18-5 victory over the unranked Air Force, and then a 12-5 win over No. 8 UC Santa Barbara.

In the 8-4 loss to California in the semifinals, all four goals were scored by junior attacker Griffin White, who just last week was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s Player of the Week.

“Griffin was prepared and ready for the big game,” Wright said.

“He scored and did a very nice job, but everybody needs to step up.”

“We just didn’t play very well,” junior utility Josh Samuels said.

UCLA kept the game against Cal tight, until the Golden Bears opened the second half with a 3-0 scoring run, stretching their lead to 6-3 by the end of the quarter. In the final quarter, the Bears outscored the Bruins 2-1 to snag their ticket to the finals of the SoCal Tournament.

The loss shocked and devastated the team, who beat California just last month in the NorCal tournament.

“We thought we were more prepared than we were,” Samuels said. “They were more physical this time. It crept up on us. We didn’t test too well at all, and we didn’t adjust to it.”

In the third-place game, the Trojans started strong, developing a 4-2 lead after the first quarter, but UCLA managed to answer back, cutting the two-point cushion down to one by the end of the first half.

After outscoring the Trojans in the third quarter, the teams went into the fourth tied at 6-6 until Samuels scored, giving the Bruins a 7-6 lead that they managed to hold onto until the end.

“They made a complete turn around from (the Cal game to the USC game). It says so much about their character, and I couldn’t be prouder,” Wright said.

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