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UCLA men’s water polo finishes 4th in MPSF tournament after loss to Cal

Senior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi stretches out on a block attempt against No. 1 seed California. Maurizi recorded 15 saves in No. 3 seed UCLA’s loss to the Golden Bears. (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)

Men’s Water Polo


No. 3 seed UCLA25
No. 6 seed Washington & Jefferson1
No. 3 seed UCLA11
No. 5 seed USC12
No. 3 UCLA6
No. 1 seed California7

By Joseph Crosby

Nov. 20, 2022 2:27 p.m.

The Bruins opened their postseason with a season-high 25 goals in a dominant 24-point win. 

But in their next two games, they scored a combined 17 goals in back-to-back losses, including a season-low six points Sunday.

No. 3 seed UCLA men’s water polo (22-4, 2-1 MPSF) fell 7-6 to No. 1 seed California (21-2, 3-0) in the third-place game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The defeat marks the Bruins’ seventh consecutive loss to the Golden Bears, putting them at 1-8 against their Northern California rivals since 2020. 

“The reality is you have to be able to execute in tough moments,” said coach Adam Wright. “It comes down to making a stop. … We got to find a way to do that.”

UCLA started off the tournament against No. 6 seed Washington & Jefferson, claiming a 25-1 victory over the Presidents and scoring more than five goals in each quarter. Led by four points apiece from junior attacker Hayden Nightingale and freshman utility Gray Carson, 13 different Bruins dented the twine with eight scoring multiple times. 

In Saturday’s semifinal against No. 5 seed USC, the blue and gold found itself in a familiar spot. After falling behind 8-3 at halftime, the Bruins trailed the Trojans by three in the fourth quarter. But whereas UCLA sent the game to overtime with three goals in less than 70 seconds on Veterans Day, it failed to do so with over five minutes remaining Saturday. 

Wright said the team still had opportunities against both USC and Cal despite misplays. 

“When this team does things the right way and just plays, we got a special group,” Wright said. “It’s unfortunate because we’re a lot better than how that went. Again, in both games, we still had a chance, but it could have been a different game, and that falls on us and falls on me.”

The 12-11 loss to the Trojans was the first defeat at the hands of their crosstown rivals for the Bruins all season, sending USC to the title game against No. 7 Stanford and setting up a UCLA rematch against Cal.

Although the Bruins fell behind 1-0 early against the Golden Bears, a pair of goals from redshirt sophomore attacker Gianpiero Di Martire gave the Bruins the lead heading into the second quarter. After tying the contest at halftime, Cal outscored UCLA 3-1 in the third quarter, putting the blue and gold on the back foot in the final stanza of the game. 

Redshirt sophomore attacker Gianpiero Di Martire pulls back for a shot. Di Martire led the Bruins with three goals against Cal on Sunday. (Brandon Jair Morquecho/Daily Bruin)

Senior goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi said the Bruins failed to execute at times. 

“We did not execute six-on-five,” Maurizi said. “We did not execute the plays we prepared. We rushed some things. … We forced certain things, and that put us in a position to not be successful.”

The blue and gold evened the score with 1:21 remaining in the game behind a pair of six-on-five goals – their third and fourth powerplay points of the game – but a Golden Bear goal on the next possession gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. 

UCLA finished Sunday’s game 4-for-11 on powerplays – a better figure than 3-for-13 against USC – but shot 6-of-28 overall against Cal. 

Maurizi – who was named as one of two first-team all-conference goalkeepers alongside Cal’s Adrian Weinberg – more than doubled his save count from Saturday, tying his season high with 15 while helping hold Cal to just one conversion in six-on-five situations.

Maurizi said he adjusted his mentality after Saturday’s loss to USC. 

“Yesterday (Saturday) didn’t go that well,” Maurizi said. “I just thought about it and moved on. … It was also just the mindset. I was more calm, so that helped me to just settle down and be focused on where the ball was going.”

With the blue and gold scoring its fewest points all season, junior attacker Makoto Kenney said the offensive strategy might need adjustment.

“Game plan has always revolved around the same thing,” Kenney said. “Obviously, we need to rethink our game plan. If we advance, we’ll rethink it, so we’ll see.”

The Bruins will await the announcement of the NCAA committee Sunday night to see if they will have a place in the NCAA tournament in December.

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Joseph Crosby | Sports editor
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
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