Dec. 5, 2009
PRINCETON, N.J. - Senior Cole Consani scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 37 seconds remaining in overtime to lead the UCLA men's water polo team past Loyola Marymount, 9-8, in an NCAA Tournament semifinal match on Saturday afternoon at Princeton's DeNunzio Pool.
The victory propels second-seeded UCLA into the NCAA championship contest against top-seeded USC on Sunday at 11 a.m. (PT). The title contest will be televised live nationally by CBS College Sports. UCLA last advanced to the NCAA championship match in 2004, defeating Stanford, 10-9, in overtime.
Senior Scott Davidson led the Bruins (23-6) with a season-best five goals, and freshman Griffin White added one pair of goals for UCLA. Loyola Marymount's Tibor Forai led the Lions (19-8) with four goals.
UCLA goalkeeper Chay Lapin netted five saves, while Loyola Marymount's Andy Stevens stopped 11 shots.
In a back-and-forth contest, UCLA prevailed after having trailed by as many as two goals in the first half. Loyola Marymount led by a 3-2 margin after the first quarter and increased its cushion to 4-2 with 7:02 to play in the second quarter.
Davidson scored four consecutive goals in the game - bringing UCLA from a 4-2 deficit to a 6-4 lead - in the second and third quarters. His two goals in the final three minutes of the second quarter tied the match, 4-4, by halftime. Davidson's two third-quarter goals handed the Bruins a 6-4 cushion with 4:47 to go in the frame.
Both teams traded goals in the final minutes of the third quarter, sending UCLA to the fourth period with a 7-5 advantage. Loyola Marymount trimmed the Bruins' advantage to 7-6 with a goal by Ikaika Aki at the 7:27 mark. Davidson answered for UCLA, scoring with 6:47 left in regulation to push the Bruins ahead, 8-6.
Loyola Marymount scored the final two goals in the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime in an 8-8 deadlock. The Lions received goals from Aki (6:32) and Forai (3:34) to tie the semifinal match.
Neither team scored in the first of two three-minute overtime periods. Consani's game-winning goal came with 37 seconds to play in the final overtime session. Loyola Marymount was awarded a 6-on-5 opportunity with 15 seconds to play, and Lapin blocked a last-second shot attempt to secure the victory for UCLA.
UCLA seeks its ninth NCAA championship when it faces crosstown rival USC on Sunday. The Bruins and Trojans will play each other in an NCAA men's water polo title match for just the second time in the rivalry's history. UCLA downed USC, 8-7, in the 1996 NCAA championship.
UCLA 9, Loyola Marymount 8 (OT - NCAA Tournament Semifinal)
Loyola Marymount Goals: Tibor Forai 4, Ikaika Aki 2, Edgaras Asajavicius, Derek Milligan
Loyola Marymount Saves: Andy Stevens 11