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UCLA men’s water polo to host USC in high-stakes Crosstown Splashdown

Graduate student utility Evan Rosenfeld lifts the ball out of the pool as he attempts to get past a defender. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin staff)

Men's Water Polo


No. 3 USC
Friday, 1 p.m.

Spieker Aquatics Center
Pac-12 Networks

By Ricardo Garcia

Nov. 9, 2022 5:16 p.m.

The Bruins are on the verge of postseason play, but they must first get past their crosstown rivals.

No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (20-2, 1-1 MPSF) plays its final game of the regular season Friday, hosting No. 3 USC (15-5, 1-1) in the Crosstown Splashdown.

The two teams meet for the third time this season with postseason implications. All but two spots have been seeded for the newly expanded Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. A win for either team clinches the No. 3 seed, while a loss will drop a team to the No. 5 seed.

Graduate student utility Evan Rosenfeld said the team isn’t paying much attention to seeding.

“It is important,” Rosenfeld said. “But it’s not something we’re focused on. We can’t necessarily control those seedings. We just are going to play as best you can.”

The Bruins have shot 8-of-37 in six-on-five situations over their last four games. In total, UCLA has shot at a 38% clip over the same stretch but put together its best shooting performance since early October when it shot 17-of-30 in its game against Loyola Marymount last weekend.

“There’s no doubt, early on in the season, we had struggles in the first half of the game,” said coach Adam Wright. “We’ve absolutely evolved. We’ve come a long way. But we also know we can be a whole lot better and a whole lot more consistent.”

Over the last four games, the blue and gold has dented the twine 26 times in the first half combined for an average of 6.5 first-half goals per game, only scoring fewer than six once in that span.

Even as the team struggled to find consistency, senior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi said he was pleased about the improvements the team made throughout the course of the season.

“We did struggle a bit to find our game, to stick to our routines,” Maurizi said. “We have, for sure, certain moments where we did not express how UCLA plays and what UCLA water polo is. We definitely have come really far. We’ve improved a lot of parts of the game.”

Friday’s home game marks the first true home game against the Trojans since the 2020 MPSF tournament, a game the Bruins lost 11-7. This season, the Bruins have notched two wins against their rivals, once at the Triton Invitational and again at the MPSF Invite.

Rosenfeld added that he expects a lot of energy at Spieker Aquatics Center.

“It’s going to be an amazing, amazing environment,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s always a great atmosphere when we play ‘SC. It’s going to be a great thing to be a part of.”

Friday’s game will also serve as Senior Day for the team’s graduating players. Wright said the senior class will be remembered for reestablishing UCLA’s culture after the 2017 NCAA championship-winning team.

“After that group, we got into a tough spot with the program and had to make some tough choices,” Wright said. “This is the group that really committed to getting our culture back and what UCLA men’s water polo has always been about – the group and not individuals.”

Opening sprint against the Trojans is set for at 1 p.m. Spieker Aquatics Center on Friday.

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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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