Nov. 19, 2006
Los Angeles - Senior Michael March scored two goals early in the second quarter to break a 1-1 deadlock and lead the third-ranked UCLA men's water polo team past 11th-ranked UC Irvine, 8-5, on "Senior Day" Sunday afternoon at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
In the regular-season finale for both teams, UC Irvine (10-18, 2-6 MPSF) got on the board first on a goal by junior Colin Mello - who finished with three goals - at 5:39 in the first quarter. UCLA (15-5, 6-2 MPSF) answered with 36 seconds remaining in the quarter on a strike from junior Matthew Jacobs.
March broke the tie 45 seconds into the second period and followed with his second goal, UCLA's third, with 4:26 remaining before halftime. The Bruins increased their advantage to three on a goal by sophomore Krsto Sbutega with 21 seconds to play in the half. UCLA gained its largest lead with 5:15 left in the third quarter on Jacobs' second goal.
Trailing 5-1, UC Irvine clawed its way back, using a 3-0 scoring run over a period of 6:34. The Anteaters cut the UCLA margin to three (5-2) on Mello's second goal with 3:55 to play in the third quarter. Freshman Kyle Baxter tallied his first score of the day at 6:09 in the final quarter, cutting the Anteaters' deficit to 5-3. UC Irvine scored just 33 seconds later on a strike from sophomore Jesse Hatch to trail by one.
The Bruins halted UC Irvine's comeback with three of their own - freshman Scott Davidson scored at 5:14, junior Marco Santos at 4:23 and Sbutega at 2:12. Mello added one more goal for UC Irvine at 1:13.
UCLA ends the regular season riding a four-game win streak and has won six of its last seven contests. The Bruins await the MPSF Tournament at UC Irvine (Nov. 24-26) and can clinch a berth in the 2006 NCAA Final Four berth by winning the conference tourney.
Seeded No. 3 in the MPSF Tournament, UCLA will play the No. 6 seed (TBD) at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24.
UC Irvine (10-18, 2-6) vs. UCLA (15-5, 6-2)
UC Irvine Goals: Colin Mello 3, Kyle Baxter, Jesse Hatch
UC Irvine Saves: Matt Garcia 11