It was a slow start, but the UCLA men’s water polo team managed to rev up and do what they needed to do to get through the first test.
UCLA came out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament victorious with a 10-1 win over UC San Diego.
The first quarter was a a scoring drought for both sides. UCLA scored once on a shot from reshirt senior Cullen Hennessey. They held the ball on their side of the pool for the majority of the period, giving UCSD few chances.
Though UCLA barely gave up the ball, it was unproductive, as their shots repeatedly skipped past or soared over the goal.
The second quarter also began at a snail’s pace, with three goals from UCLA”“ one each from redshirt freshman Daniel Lenhart and junior attacker Griffin White and a second from Hennessey”“and one from San Diego’s freshman Matthew Michalko.
Though the Bruins were leading, UCSD was looking strong and ready to pull ahead. The 4-1 cushion was not so large that it could have prevented such a run from the Tritons.
UCLA started the second half with a goal from redshirt senior Brett Hays, and San Diego lost Michalko due to what was called as a flagrant misconduct.
That was when UCSD seemed to deflate.
The Bruins went on an all-out rally, with two consecutive goals from junior attacker Bret Lathrope, a second goal from White, and one from the Bruins’ leading scorer on the season, junior utility Josh Samuels. The third quarter ended 9-1.
UCLA took their usual goalkeeper, Rapacz, out of the net for the final period, instead utilizing sophomore James Hartshorne. Freshman Paul Reynolds netted the Bruins’ final goal, pulling the score into double digits.
UCLA never relaxed into their cushion, going hard for the entirety of the game. They had a variety of scorers with 10 goals coming from seven players.
It was, score-wise, the Bruins second-best defensive game of the season. Saves from Rapacz and Hartshorne were strong, and the Bruins managed to put up several field blocks.
UCLA and USC will play for the third time in three weeks tomorrow, and the second time in those weeks for a title. The Bruins beat USC last Sunday for the conference title in sudden death overtime.
UCLA will attempt to stop USC from becoming the National Champions for an unprecedented four straight years.