It was a tale of two halves in UCLA men’s water polo’s victory over Pepperdine.
“I think in the first half we did a good job of coming out with energy and then in the second half we let up a little bit,” said senior attacker Max Irving. “That gave them the ability to come back and score a couple of goals.”
The No. 2 Bruins (13-1) beat the No. 9 Waves (13-8) by a final score of 8-7 in their first game since falling to No. 6 UC Irvine (10-4) 9-8 a week prior.
UCLA came out of the gates quickly, taking a 4-1 lead following a pair of goals from both Irving and freshman attacker Chasen Travisano, who finished the game with his second career hat trick.
The Bruins would take a 7-4 lead into halftime, whereafter the script was flipped.
Pepperdine held UCLA to just one second-half goal while they clawed their way back into the game. Travisano said the crowd began getting more involved, which made communication on the offensive end difficult.
“The crowd and the momentum changed,” Travisano said. “We couldn’t get a lot of shots off and our offense was struggling.”
Not only did the Bruins have a hard time scoring at even strength, they also struggled to find the back of the net with a man advantage. They finished the match 1-for-10 on the man advantage, a daunting statistic considering the fact that Pepperdine was 4-for-8 in the same situation.
While UCLA attempted to correct its offensive woes, the Waves got a pair of goals from attacker Mark Urban to bring the game within one with just over a minute to play in the game.
The Bruin defense held up in the last 81 seconds to give the team its first victory since the Mountain Pacific Invitational final against USC.
Following last weekend’s loss, the Bruins held a much more detailed and thorough practice week in preparation for the Waves, and Travisano said the extra work made the difference.
“After last weekend, we re-evaluated everything and sat down with the team and decided that we needed to bring it together and work harder,” Travisano said.
However, for coach Adam Wright, the win was the last thing on his mind after watching the team let a four-goal lead slip away in the second half.
“The only positive you can take away is that we found a way to get it done,” Wright said.
UCLA will have a short week before returning to action Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 at Spieker Aquatics Center for a pair of matchups against Cal Baptist and Long Beach State respectively.