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UCLA men’s water polo remains unbeaten after 4 wins at Aggie Roundup

Sophomore attacker Chase Dodd swims with the ball. Dodd scored eight goals across four games Friday and Saturday. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Men's Water Polo

No. 2 UCLA13
No. 10 San Jose State7
No. 2 UCLA17
No. 16 California Baptist8
No. 2 UCLA8
No. 11 Princeton6
No. 2 UCLA16
No. 14 Harvard15

By Ricardo Garcia

Sept. 18, 2022 5:07 p.m.

In a busy weekend up north, the Bruins survived two upset bids to stay unbeaten.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (10-0) won all four of its games at the Aggie Roundup in Davis, California, defeating No. 10 San Jose State (3-4) by a score of 13-7 and followed with a 17-8 victory over No. 16 California Baptist (6-6) on the first day of the tournament. The blue and gold overcame two halftime deficits the next day with comeback victories over No. 11 Princeton (8-4) and No. 14 Harvard (5-3) by scores of 8-6 and 16-15, respectively.

In its first game of the Roundup, the Bruins never trailed against the Spartans while shooting 50% from the field. Sophomore attacker Chase Dodd led all scorers with a career-high four goals, and senior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi made nine saves while allowing seven goals.

The blue and gold’s depth showed out in its second game against the Lancers as 12 different players would score in the nine-goal victory. Five players would also score two goals apiece, while Dodd was again credited as the leading scorer after finishing with two assists and denting the twine twice. Junior goalkeeper Garret Griggs made the start to end the afternoon, allowing eight goals – including five in six-on-five situations – while tallying 10 saves.

The next day, however, the Bruins were pushed by two teams from the East Coast.

On day two, the blue and gold found itself down 3-1 at the end of the first quarter against the Tigers, tied for the largest opening quarter deficit of the season.

“That’s been a problem for us all season,” said coach Adam Wright of the team’s slow starts. “We’re going to adjust some things as far as how we prepare for the game, in the water and out of the water. We haven’t done a good job of that.”

UCLA would not take its first lead of the game until 3:03 remained in the fourth quarter when graduate utility/attacker Jake Cavano netted his second goal. Graduate utility Evan Rosenfeld then scored his second goal of the game with under two minutes left to cap off a 3-0 Bruin fourth quarter and complete the comeback.

“Throughout this whole season, the second half has been our best half,” said freshman attacker Noah Rowe. “Knowing that we need to climb back or do better is what makes us do better in the second half.”

In the Aggie Roundup finale, the Bruins would begin their contest against the Crimson in shootout fashion, with both teams battling to a 5-5 tie at the end of the first quarter in what was just the third all-time meeting between the two schools and first since 1990.

With its offensive starters sitting and Griggs making his second start of the Roundup, the blue and gold would be outscored 5-2 in the second, trailing 10-7 at halftime.

“Our five-on-six was not good,” Wright said. “There’s a lot to clean up.”

Harvard drew just five exclusions in the game but shot 4-of-8 on the powerplay. In contrast, UCLA drew 10 exclusions but only mustered three shot attempts and one goal in six-on-five situations.

The Bruins would reinsert their usual offensive starters to begin the second half and ended the third quarter with a 13-12 lead after Rowe scored the go-ahead goal with 14 seconds left in the period.

Though UCLA would hold a two-goal lead late in the game, a Harvard goal with 1:15 left in the fourth would necessitate a save on the Crimson’s final possession to preserve the lead.

Griggs finished the game with nine saves but allowed 15 goals – the most by any UCLA goalkeeper this season.

Senior attacker Andy Rodgers tied the team-high three goals with a hat trick and was one of 10 Bruins to score in the game but said the weekend showed the Bruins still have work to do as the season continues.

“We have such an old team, and we’ve got a couple of young guys,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to show how we play Bruin water polo.”

The Bruins will play in their final midseason tournament next weekend at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Invitational. As the No. 2 seed, UCLA will face No. 15 seed Santa Clara to open the tournament Friday at Stanford.

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