Nov. 18, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's water polo team dropped a 9-6 decision to USC in an MPSF match before a capacity crowd of 1,328 at the Bruins' Spieker Aquatics Center on Friday night.
Junior attacker Josh Samuels led the Bruins with three goals in a contest between two crosstown rivals tied for the nation's No. 1 ranking.
USC (20-2, 8-0 MPSF) locked up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming MPSF Tournament, extending its win streak to 11 games. The Trojans led 3-1 after the first quarter and by a 5-2 margin at halftime.
UCLA (19-4, 5-2 MPSF) reduced its deficit to 7-5 after three quarters and trailed by just two goals (8-6) with less than five minutes to play in the contest. USC's Kostas Genidounias netted his second goal of the game with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, lifting the Trojans ahead 9-6.
"You have to give USC credit," head coach Adam Wright said. "They played excellent defense and made the field blocks that we didn't make. They had a ton of blocks in the field. Overall, we can sharpen some of those things, make improvements on the defensive end, and we will be fine."
Friday night's game had implications for seeding in the upcoming MPSF Tournament, to be played at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center in one week (Nov. 25-27). The Bruins will enter the conference championship as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed. The complete bracket will be determined after Saturday's final three regular-season MPSF matches.
UCLA returns to action against No. 5 UC Santa Barbara in both teams' final games of the regular season on Saturday afternoon. Game time at Spieker Aquatics Center is 12 p.m.
"We need to turn around quickly here and get better tomorrow," Wright said. "Our game against UC Santa Barbara is a very important match, and we'll have to improve in the short time between that match and the MPSF Tournament. We need to be ready for UCSB."
Against USC on Friday, Bruins' junior goalkeeper Matt Rapacz recorded a career-high 16 saves. Rapacz tallied five saves in each of the first two quarters, totaling 10 by halftime.
The Trojans were led by two goals from Genidounias and Peter Kurzeka.
USC's Jeremy Davie scored the first goal of the game, just 64 seconds into the match. UCLA responded with an extra-man goal from Griffin White at the 6:05 mark. The Trojans pulled ahead, 3-1, by the end of the opening frame with goals from Kurzeka (3:46) on a power-play opportunity and from Genidounias (0:18).
UCLA reduced USC's margin to 3-2 on a penalty shot from Samuels at the 7:19 mark in the second quarter. The Trojans secured a 5-2 cushion by halftime, receiving goals from Kurzeka (6:59) and Nikola Vavic (1:40).
The Bruins pulled to within two goals (5-3) on a shot from White (7:31). USC raced to a four-goal lead within the next minute, netting goals from Tobias Preuss (7:02) and Michael Rosenthal (6:29).
Trailing 7-3, UCLA responded with an extra-man goal from Aimone Barabino (4:01) and a penalty shot from Samuels (0:39). Prior to Samuels netting a penalty shot, USC's Genidounias was excluded, UCLA's Griffin White was ejected from the game for a major act of misconduct and Genidounias was issued a penalty. As Samuels lined up for the penalty shot, USC goalkeeper Joel Dennerley was excluded.
In the final period, USC claimed an 8-5 lead on a goal from Mace Rapsey. UCLA pulled its deficit to just two goals (8-6) on a 6-on-5 goal from Samuels (5:27). Genidounias' goal at the 3:30 mark put the Trojans ahead, 9-6.
Prior to Saturday's opening sprint, UCLA will honor its three seniors - Brett Hays, Cullen Hennessy and Andrew Mesesan. Admission to the contest against UC Santa Barbara is free. Fans can follow live in-game updates through Twitter (twitter.com/uclawatepolo).
No. 1 USC at No. 1 UCLA (MPSF match)
USC Goals: Kostas Genidounias 2, Peter Kurzeka 2, Jeremy Davie, Tobias Preuss, Mace Rapsey, Michael Rosenthal, Nikola Vavic
USC Saves: Joel Dennerley 3