BERKELEY, Calif. -- The No. 2 UCLA men's water polo team improved to 10-0 on the season with a 6-5 win over No. 4 California (6-1) this afternoon in the semifinals of the NorCal Invitational. UCLA will face No. 1 USC in the title game tonight at 6:15 p.m. It marks the sixth-consecutive year that UCLA has reached the championship game of the NorCal Invitational.
California controlled the action in the first period, scoring the only goal on a power play by Farrel South at the 1:37 mark. The Bruins had plenty of scoring opportunities in the opening period, but were 0-for-4 on power plays.
Freshman Gordon Marshall got the Bruins on the board to tie the score at 1-1 with a power play goal with 6:48 left in the second period. It was Marshall's eighth-consecutive game with a goal as he missed the Bruins' two games on Saturday. Sophomore Anthony Daboub then gave UCLA its first lead at 2-1 on the next possession with a counter attack strike that found the back of the net (6:21). Collin Smith tied it at 2-2 with a 6-on-5 goal at the 5:42 mark. Freshman Jack Fellner put the Bruins up 3-2 with an exclusion goal with 3:46 to go, a score that would stand through halftime.
The Bruins had plenty of opportunities in the third to put the game out of reach, but went just 1-for-6 on power plays. The Golden Bears tied it at 3-3 with a power play score by South, his second of the game, with 6:39 to go in the third. But after going 0-for-4 on its first power plays of the period, junior Paul Reynolds finally capitalized on a power play (1:12) to send the Bruins into the final period with a 4-3 advantage.
Max Schell scored a power play goal with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game once again at 4-4. The Bruins regained the lead on a counter attack by junior Daniel Lenhart (5:55) to lead 5-4. Daboub scored his second of the game on a power play with 4:29 to go to widen the gap to 6-4. UCLA held that lead for the next four minutes, thanks to the play of its defense and two huge 5-on-6 stops by goalkeeper Garrett Danner. Aleksa Saponjic provided the final score of 6-5 with a goal for Cal from five meters out with :27 remaining.
The Bruins were 4-for-15 on power plays while California was 4-for-11. Neither team attempted a penalty shot.
Danner played the entire game in the cage for UCLA and was credited with 12 saves. Jon Sibley registered seven saves in goal for California.
No. 2 UCLA at No. 4 California
|No. 2 UCLA||0||3||1||2||6|
|No. 4 California||1||1||1||2||5|
California Goals: Farrel South 2, Collin Smith, Aleksa Saponjic, Max Schell
California Saves: Jon Sibley 7