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UCLA men’s water polo triumphs over No. 1 Stanford in MPSF opener

Sophomore attacker Chase Dodd gets ready to take a shot. Dodd led the Bruins on Saturday, tying a career-high with four goals en route to a victory over No. 1 Stanford. (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)

Men's Water Polo

No. 3 UCLA10
No. 1 Stanford6

By Ricardo Garcia

Oct. 16, 2022 4:36 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 16 at 10:22 p.m.

After another slow offensive start, a half-court buzzer beater helped swing the momentum in the Bruins’ favor.

No. 3 UCLA men’s water polo (17-1, 1-0 MPSF) defeated No. 1 Stanford (17-1, 0-1) by a score of 10-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference play opener in the Bay Area on Saturday, avenging its only loss of the season while handing the Cardinal their first loss.

Despite scoring six goals in the first quarter in their previous game, the Bruins found themselves off to a slow start, scoring just once in the first quarter when sophomore attacker Chase Dodd dented the twine less than a minute into the game.

The blue and gold would get its offense going in the second quarter, scoring three times in the stanza. UCLA would also take its first lead – courtesy of junior attacker Makoto Kenney – who was playing in just his second game back after an extended absence.

“I feel good,” Kenney said. “Anything I can do to help the team. I know I was out for a really long time.”

Trailing in the final seconds of the half, the Bruins tied the game on a desperation heave from freshman attacker Noah Rowe, who managed to sneak a shot past Cardinal goalkeeper Nolan Krutonog from near mid-pool as time expired.

In a reversal of the MPSF Invititational championship game three weeks ago – which saw UCLA’s offense go scoreless in the final eight minutes of the contest – Stanford went on an extended scoring drought of its own. After scoring their fourth goal with 1:09 left in the second, the Cardinal were shut out in the third quarter and the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth. In that span, the Bruins scored six unanswered goals to take a 9-4 lead.

“We got our hand on the ball a lot more from a defensive standpoint,” said coach Adam Wright. “Field blocks came from the energy that these guys brought to the game today.”

UCLA shot 10-of-23 from the field, including 3-of-6 in six-on-five situations. It was a stark contrast to the 7-for-32 effort in the last matchup, where the Bruins struggled against the Cardinal’s press defense. Stanford managed to dent the twine six times in 25 tries, markedly lower than the 8-for-23 output in September.

“We just moved a lot more,” Dodd said of the Bruins’ approach to the press defense. “That’s what we struggled in last time. Just us moving helped us, even though sometimes we didn’t move the best or we didn’t move the correct way.”

Dodd tied a career high of four goals to lead all scorers, while senior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi recorded eight saves on the afternoon.

With only five games left in the regular season, Wright said it was important for the team to stay committed down the stretch.

“The reality is you want to progress from week to week, and we can do a good job with that this week,” Wright said. “As the season goes on, it becomes more tough to stay the course and reengage at a level that’s going to put us in a position to grow.”

The Bruins return to Spieker Aquatics Center on Thursday at 4 p.m. for their second matchup against UC Santa Barbara.

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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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