STOCKTON, Calif. -- The third-seeded UCLA men's water polo team finished fourth at the 2013 MPSF Tournament after a 10-9 setback to No. 1 Pacific in the third-place game on Sunday afternoon at Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Aquatics Complex. The Bruins dropped to 28-4 overall while the Tigers improved to 22-4. Both teams will await their fate for the upcoming NCAA Championship selection announcement tonight at 11:00 p.m. (ET)/8:00 p.m. (PT).
The Bruins still have the best record in collegiate water polo and have two wins over USC, which earned the automatic bid by winning the MPSF Tournament. UCLA also split a pair of games with Pacific, winning the goal differential by plus one. While the Bruins beat Stanford 10-5 early in the year, Stanford won by two in an MPSF match and by one in the MPSF Tournament. UCLA is the only team with a winning record this season against the five-time defending champions, which could carry some weight. Additionally, UCLA's four defeats are by a combined total of just five goals, the fewest in the nation.
Junior Paul Reynolds led the Bruins with three goals. Goran Tomasevic and Kevin Oliveira each scored a hat trick for Pacific.
Pacific scored first on a power play goal by Tomasevic (6:33). Reynolds scored from the front court to tie it at 1-1 at the 5:43 mark of the first period. Balazs Erdely gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at the end of the first with a penalty goal with :09 remaining in the period.
The Bruins tied the score again at 2-2 at the 7:19 mark of the second quarter on a goal from set by senior Aimone Barabino. Pacific took a 3-2 lead on a power play goal (6:32), but the Bruins answered with a power play goal by Reynolds to tie it at 3-3 (3:48). Pacific then made it five goals to open the game either by penalty or power play when Tomasevic scored on a 6-on-5 (3:20) followed by one from Kristian Laczkovics (1:29) to end the scoring in the first half with Pacific holding a 5-3 edge at the break.
UCLA responded after halftime, scoring a penalty shot by Reynolds (4:59) and a counter attack goal from freshman Jack Fellner (4:19) to tie it at 5-5. After Pacific regained the lead, the Bruins again knotted it at 6-6 with an exlusion goal by freshman Gordon Marshall (3:14). But Pacific scored three straight goals (two on power plays) to take a 9-6 lead into the fourth period.
UCLA owned the final quarter with sophomore Anthony Daboub scoring from the front court (7:10) to trim the lead to 9-7. UCLA freshman Ryder Roberts scored a power play goal (4:55) to make it 9-8. But Pacific got a power play goal from Oliveira to push the lead back to two (10-8) with 4:12 remaining. Roberts again scored on a power play (1:36) to provide the one-goal margin (10-9). The Bruins drew an exclusion with :05 to go, but the call could have easily been a penalty shot. UCLA was unable to score the tying goal in the final seconds.
Redshirt freshman Garrett Danner made the start in the cage for UCLA and played the entire contest, registering eight saves. Alex Malkis was credited with 13 stops in the cage for Pacific.
No. 3 UCLA at No. 1 Pacific
|No. 3 UCLA||1||2||3||3||9|
|No. 1 Pacific||2||3||4||1||10|
Pacific Goals: Kevin Oliveira 3, Goran Tomasevic 3, Balazs Erdelyi 2, Kristian Laczkovics, Alex Obert
Pacific Saves: Alex Malkis 13