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UCLA men’s water polo defeats UCSB in a close 9-7 match

By Ryan Eshoff

November 16, 2009 10:16 am

In its final regular season tune-up before the playoff stretch, the UCLA men’s water polo team earned a victory but wasn’t altogether satisfied.

The Bruins defeated a pesky UC Santa Barbara team 9-7 at Spieker Aquatics Center Sunday afternoon to wrap up their schedule. They now have a two-week break from competition before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament begins Nov. 27.

The close score was a bit of a surprise, and the No. 10 Gauchos (12-13, 1-6) were able to get a number of clear scoring opportunities against the defense of the No. 4 Bruins (19-6, 5-3).

“Santa Barbara played well. They’ve got some good shooters, and we didn’t make our field blocks, which is a little bit of a concern,” UCLA coach Adam Wright said. “But these are the little things, the things that I get upset about.”

UCSB’s Zsombor Vincze led all scorers with four goals, while freshman Griffin White, junior Ben Hohl and redshirt senior Scott Davidson each recorded a pair for the Bruins. As was the case following their recent loss to top-ranked USC more than a week ago, the Bruins were not particularly proud of their 5-on-6 performance.

“We’ve got to play better 5-man,” Wright said. “That’s why we were successful earlier in the year, and in the last two games it hasn’t been there. Also, our counter (attack) has got to get better.”

While the Bruins may not have executed as efficiently as they would have liked as a team, the game proved to be a banner day for a pair of veteran leaders. As the Bruins celebrated senior day, Davidson and redshirt senior goalkeeper Chay Lapin each posted impressive numbers to move up through the UCLA record books.

Davidson’s goals give him 143 for his UCLA career, tying with the recently graduated Krsto Sbutega for fifth on the all-time scoring list. Meanwhile, Lapin posted seven saves to give him 680 and move into a third-place tie with former Bruin Dan Hackett on the all-time saves list.

The match against UCSB had no implications for the Bruins’ playoff positioning; the Bruins remain solidly in fourth place in the conference and will face either UC Irvine or Pepperdine in their first-round game. USC, Stanford and California hold the top three seeds, although the exact order has yet to be determined.

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