Men’s water polo defeats Stanford and USC, falls to California
Senior attacker Nicolas Saveljic scored eight goals against top-ranked Stanford, the most ever against the Cardinal by an individual player and tied for the most in an MPSF conference game – placing the Montenegro native in the top 10 UCLA scorers of all time. (Elise Tsai/Daily Bruin)
Men's Water Polo
|No. 2 UCLA||8|
|No. 2 California||11|
|No. 2 UCLA||15|
|No. 1 Stanford||13|
|No. 2 UCLA||7|
|No. 2 USC||5|
By Kyle Boal
Feb. 8, 2021 4:43 p.m.
The Bruins are two Saturdays from perfection.
No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (5-3, 4-3 MPSF) fell to No. 2 California (5-2, 5-2) 11-8 in overtime Saturday despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead. On Sunday, UCLA defeated No. 1 Stanford (1-2, 1-2) 15-13 behind senior attacker Nicolas Saveljic’s eight-goal performance – the most ever against a Cardinal opponent – before finishing the weekend with a 7-5 win against No. 2 USC (2-5, 2-5).
The Bruins’ first round-robin weekend of the season saw the team fall to the Golden Bears and Trojans on Saturday, Jan. 23, before overcoming both teams the following day.
Despite never trailing until the extra period, coach Adam Wright said UCLA deviated from its game plan in the loss, and the team is working to simplify the minute aspects of the game.
“The big thing there is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Wright said. “We have to really just concentrate on doing the little things that we’re supposed to do. We know we have our hands full with (California) and especially their centers, and we’ve got to do a better job on them. I thought all in all, it was a game that we absolutely deviated from what we wanted to do, but we still had a shot and that’s a positive, and another positive is we can be better.”
While the Bruins lost in overtime, sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi tallied 18 saves against the Golden Bears – a season high and one save away from a career high. He ended the weekend with 43 saves.
Whereas USC and California had previously competed this season, the USC round-robin tournament was where the top-ranked Cardinal’s first games of the season were played. Saveljic’s eight-goal performance against Stanford – scoring four of the team’s last five – was tied for the most ever in an MPSF conference game by an individual player. Moreover, the weekend propelled the senior into the top-10 ranking of most goals in UCLA history.
While he said the accomplishment was special, Saveljic emphasized the team nature of the sport.
“We had a bad day yesterday (against California) – we didn’t do what we’re supposed to,” Saveljic said. “So today we came off fresh, and it just happened. It was just one of those days I was prepared. I trained every day for moments like this. It was just another game. Today it was me. Tomorrow it’s going to be someone else.”
USC managed five goals against UCLA, the team’s lowest goal total in a game since Nov. 18, 2018 when the Trojans fell 7-4 to the Bruins in the conference tournament.
Wright said the game was the most physical of the weekend.
“They played physically. There were moments in the game where we knew things could have shifted, and our guys stayed strong,” Wright said. “We had some guys that had to play in a lot of minutes. … To be honest, that intensity of that game was probably the most intense game over the weekend.”
The leading scorer against the Trojans with a hat trick, sophomore attacker Tommy Gruwell, said the weekend was a good learning experience.
“This weekend was definitely something to build off,” Gruwell said. “I wouldn’t say satisfied, but definitely something to build off and keep getting better going to the next practice.”
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