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UCLA men’s water polo falls to Cal, finishes 3rd in MPSF Invitational

Redshirt senior utility Felix Brozyna-Vilim scored five goals and drew 14 exclusions over three games at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Invitational as No. 2 seed UCLA men’s water polo claimed third place. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin)

Men's Water Polo

No. 2 seed UCLA11
No. 7 seed Pacific9
No. 2 seed UCLA9
No. 3 seed California10
No. 2 seed UCLA10
No. 4 seed Stanford6

By Ricardo Garcia

Sept. 27, 2021 1:30 a.m.

The Bruins took home the bronze in a tournament featuring the nation’s top teams.

No. 2 seed UCLA men’s water polo (11-1) took part in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Invitational in Berkeley on Saturday and Sunday, opening with an 11-9 win over No. 7 seed Pacific (5-6). Later that evening, however, the Bruins’ winning streak ended at 10 following a 10-9 defeat to No. 3 seed California (13-1) in the Saturday nightcap. On Sunday, UCLA wrapped up the weekend with a 10-6 win over No. 4 seed Stanford (12-2) in the third-place game.

With the game tied at 8-8 midway through the fourth quarter of the Bruins’ tournament opener against the Tigers, redshirt senior utility Felix Brozyna-Vilim scored three straight goals to put the game out of reach.

Crediting his teammates on the perimeter for feeding him the ball in the fourth quarter, Brozyna-Vilim said his team made some late-game adjustments.

“(They were) running a full zone practically the entire game,” Brozyna-Vilim said. “By the end of the fourth quarter, we were able to somewhat figure out their full zone.”

The fourth-quarter deficit to Pacific was the second time all season UCLA trailed in the final frame, the first of which being when they came back to beat No. 5 UC Santa Barbara earlier this season.

Even with a comeback under their belt early on in the tournament, the Bruins couldn’t add another one in the semifinals, falling to the Golden Bears on Saturday evening.

Despite holding Cal scoreless in the third quarter, UCLA only mustered one goal in the frame, and 2-meter Nikos Delagrammatikas’ goal with 4:56 left in the game pushed Cal’s lead to four.

Last season, the Bruins dropped three of their four meetings against the Golden Bears. Junior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi said Cal’s defense, attack and center make them a tough opponent for UCLA.

The loss to the Golden Bears also marked the first action of the season for Maurizi. In his season debut, he saved 12 shots in 32 minutes of action.

“I was happy to be back,” Maurizi said. “I was ready, even if it was against a good opponent like Cal.”

(Ariana Fadel/Daily Bruin)
After missing the first 10 games of the season, junior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi made his season debut Saturday against California, picking up 12 saves. (Ariana Fadel/Daily Bruin)

On Sunday, the Bruins bounced back from their first loss of the year by defeating the Cardinal 10-6. UCLA’s defense allowed six goals on 16.7% shooting, shutting down a Stanford team averaging 15.1 goals per game entering the contest.

Maurizi said the team felt prepared facing Stanford thanks to the number of times it faced its Northern California rival a year ago.

“They’re still a good team,” Maurizi said. “We gave up six goals, but we can do so much better.”

Brozyna-Vilim added that the team had to take a look at itself after the loss to Cal.

“We looked inward and saw our deficiencies that we were doing in the Cal game,” Brozyna-Vilim said. “So we’re just trying to improve step by step on everything we can do.”

Coach Adam Wright did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UCLA returns home Saturday for a doubleheader against No. 11 San Jose State and No. 20 Navy.

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Ricardo Garcia | Sports reporter
Garcia is currently a reporter on the men's water polo and swim & dive beats. He was previously a contributor on the track & field beat.
Garcia is currently a reporter on the men's water polo and swim & dive beats. He was previously a contributor on the track & field beat.
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