Drawing penalties gave the Bruins an edge.
No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (15-0) defeated No. 8 UC Davis (8-4) 12-8 to close out the weekend on the road with wins over two top-10 ranked opponents. UCLA took down No. 5 Pacific (5-5) 8-5 in Stockton, California, on Saturday.
Sophomore utility Felix Brozyna-Vilim drew four five-meter opportunities, allowing UCLA to take advantage of 3-of-4 penalty shots.
“(Brozyna-Vilim) was really able to capitalize (on penalties),” said freshman attacker Jake Cavano. “It was really crucial that (Brozyna-Vilim) did that so that we could put away the game.”
The Aggies jumped out to a 3-1 lead, scoring their first three goals off power plays.
“We were absolutely not ready to come out to play today,” said coach Adam Wright. “If you don’t prepare the right way to start a game, then you’re going to find yourself down like we were.”
The Bruins rallied back with Cavano and redshirt sophomore attacker Peter Lovas each scoring goals to tie the game at 3-3. Both Cavano and Lovas finished the match scoring two apiece. UC Davis did not score in the front court until the 2:58 mark in the second period.
“We had a tough game yesterday, and it took a lot of energy,” Lovas said. “In first quarter, we were struggling with the front court offense and the front court defense.”
The Aggies trailed 7-5 at halftime and never got closer. The Bruins led by three at the end of the third quarter and eventually extended the margin to four points on the match.
Cavano scored in the second frame off a man-up opportunity, continuing his six-game scoring streak. The freshman sat out the first nine games of the season due to an undisclosed injury.
Sophomore center Quinten Osborne, freshman attacker Ashworth Molthen and Brozyna-Vilim also found the back of the net twice.
The contention of the match can be attributed to the coaching history between UC Davis and UCLA. UC Davis’ head coach Daniel Leyson was UCLA’s assistant coach during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
“Obviously, (Leyson’s) done an incredible job over at Davis,” Wright said. “The reality is that it’s a little bit like a chess match, but at the end of the day it comes down to who’s going to execute it better.”
Wright said that even though the Bruins didn’t execute in the first quarter, this weekend was important preparation for the rest of the season.
“At the end of the day, we have to play for situations that will help us later in the year,” Wright said. “Overall, this week absolutely allowed us to grow as a team.”