Sunday, May 24

Men’s water polo defeats three NCAA top-five teams to win invitational

Senior attacker Max Irving was named MPSF Player of the Week after scoring nine goals in four games. Six of those goals came against No. 2 USC in the tournament final. (Daily Bruin file photo)

UCLA men’s water polo took down three of the nation’s top five teams en route to a Mountain Pacific Invitational championship last weekend. The magical run catapulted the Bruins to the top spot in the NCAA men’s water polo rankings released Wednesday afternoon.

Following a second-round win over No. 5 Pacific, then-No. 4 UCLA had to play the second leg of a doubleheader against then-No. 1 California.

UCLA led by a goal entering the fourth quarter, but with just over a minute to play, attacker Johnny Hooper converted a penalty shot for Cal to send the game into overtime.

In the first overtime period, the Golden Bears regained the lead after attacker Luca Cupido put one past redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Alex Wolf. The Bruins quickly responded with a goal from senior center Matt Farmer to tie the game back up at 7-7.

Later in the period, freshman attacker Nicolas Saveljic put UCLA ahead with his third goal of the game. Senior attacker Jack Grover then scored what ended up being the game-winning goal in the second overtime frame.

Following an upset to the nation’s top team at the time, UCLA took on then-No. 2 USC for the invitational. The Trojans beat the Bruins in both of their meetings last season.

After falling behind by a pair of goals in the first period, UCLA outscored USC in each of the final three periods, winning the match 13-11.

Wolf started in goal for the Bruins and recorded his third win against a top-five team in two days with a ten-save effort.

Senior attacker Max Irving scored six goals after recording three total goals in the first three matches of the tournament, while senior utility Alex Roelse added four goals of his own.

Following the tournament, Irving was named MPSF Player of the Week after scoring nine goals for the Bruins in four matches.

The Bruins began their run by avoiding an upset bid from No. 20 Loyola Marymount on Friday afternoon.

UCLA entered the fourth quarter leading 3-2, and pulled away with four goals in the final frame to take the the match 7-4.

In the second round, Pacific took a one-goal lead into the third quarter, but were outscored 7-5 by UCLA the rest of the way. The Bruins had three players score multiple goals while Wolf recorded 11 saves in a winning effort. UCLA won the match 9-8.

The No. 1 ranked Bruins return to regularly scheduled play Saturday against No. 7 UC Irvine at Anteater Aquatics Complex.

Sports senior staff

Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the football and men's basketball beats. He was the 2018-2019 Sports editor and an assistant Sports editor in 2017-2018. Smith was previously on the women's basketball, men's water polo, baseball, men's golf and women's golf beats.

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