LONG BEACH, Calif.—A 15-minute power outage and some controversial calls didn’t faze the Bruins.
No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (12-0) outlasted No. 6 Long Beach State’s (6-4) late-fourth-quarter run, winning 9-7 on the road. The Bruins handed the 49ers their third consecutive loss and remain undefeated through 12 games for the sixth year in a row.
UCLA held onto an 8-5 lead heading into the fourth period, but Long Beach State answered with two straight goals, including a 5-meter goal, following a penalty on redshirt junior goalie Alex Wolf.
“In the end, when it’s the fourth quarter,” said sophomore attacker Nicolas Saveljic, “it’s nothing different than the first quarter, and nothing different than practice. We just approached it the same way.”
The teams combined for 16 exclusions on the night. The physical game resulted in coach Adam Wright making his voice heard to the referees, receiving a yellow card before calling timeout with 2:49 remaining in the game.
“We’re trying to play a clean game,” Wright said. “But we were shooting ourselves in the foot with our body position getting caught playing heavy, and they’re calling it tighter this year.”
UCLA drew an exclusion in the front court, and Saveljic found sophomore utility Felix Brozyna-Vilim open on the post with 1:19 left in the fourth to seal the victory.
“We had struggled the whole game with our six-on-five,” Wright said. “And to finish off the game by making one was a big positive.”
Freshman attacker Jake Cavano and senior attacker David Stiling both found the back of the net to help the Bruins jump out to a 2-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first frame. The 49ers answered before the end of the period and cashed in on two power play opportunities to knot it up at 2-2.
“We have things we like to stick to,” Stiling said. “And one of those things is being able to keep our composure (because) we knew coming in that this would be a hard place to play.”
In the second quarter, Saveljic led the way with two goals and was followed by a power play where Long Beach State’s goalie Marwan Darwish jumped right as Saveljic launched one to the right side for a 5-3 lead.
The two teams each exchanged two goals in the third quarter before UCLA put the game away with defensive stops in the final frame. Wolf played his second full game of the season and logged five saves.
The Bruins will have a quick turnaround and host No. 12 UC Irvine (5-4) Saturday afternoon. The Anteaters broke UCLA’s 12-game win streak last season.
“We have to be able to quickly rebound,” Wright said. “We have to forget about this game. It was a nice win, but it’s done, and we have to be ready to go.”