Dec. 2, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- The second-seeded UCLA men's water polo team led for much of the 2012 NCAA Championship game, but top-seeded USC won its fifth-straight national title on Sunday with an 11-10 come-from-behind win at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium.
"I can't say enough about our guys," UCLA Head Coach Adam Wright said. "They put us right where we wanted to be. We got off to a great start. The losses all hurt, but this one really hurts. We were in a great situation up by one with three minutes to go. But you have to give credit to USC. They've won five times in a row now, which is not easy to do."
Michael Rosenthal led all scorers with three goals for USC, which ended the season 29-0. Freshman Danny McClintick and seniors Josh Samuels and Bret Lathrope each scored two goals to lead UCLA (28-5).
The Trojans led for only 3:37 of the 32 minutes of action in pulling off the come-from-behind win. The game marked the third-straight time this season that the Bruins suffered a one-goal decision at the hands of USC.
Connor Virjee got the Trojans on the board first at the 7:36 mark of the first period. Lathrope would tie the game at 1-1 with 6:06 left in the opening stanza. McClintick then put the Bruins up 2-1 with 5:15 to go. Then Chris Fahlsing (2:54) and Paul Reynolds (1:51), gave UCLA its largest lead of the game at 4-1. The Trojans' Matthew Burton then scored the first of USC's six power play goals (on 10 attempts) to make it 4-2 with 1:29 to go in the first. The Bruins then converted their only 6-on-5 opportunity (out of five attempts) when Samuels found the back of the cage to make it 5-2 (:53). Virjee scored his second of the period (:27) to end the first quarter scoring with UCLA leading 5-3.
The Trojans opened the second period with back-to-back power play goals to tie the score at 5-5 (Rosenthal at 6:17 and Nikola Vavic at 5:37). Tobia Preuss gave the Trojans the lead again with a goal at 4:47. Junior Lucas Reynolds tied it at 6-6 with a nice turn at two-meters with 3:20 left in the second period. The Bruins then regained the lead at 7-6 with another goal from Lathrope (1:43) and then took an 8-6 lead into the break with a goal by Daniel Lenhart with 17 seconds left in the first half.
The Trojans again opened the third quarter with a power play goal, also by Rosenthal, to cut the Bruin lead to 8-7 (7:21). McClintick pushed the Bruins' lead to 9-7 with 2:17 remaining in the third quarter. USC got another power play goal, this time by Mace Rapsey, to make it 9-8 with 1:48 left in the third to end the scoring for the quarter.
Burton tied it at 9-9 with 6:16 left in the fourth quarter. But again, UCLA took the lead on a goal by Samuels from distance, to make it 10-9 with 3:09 remaining. USC's Rosenthal, who scored all three of his goals on 6-on-5 opportunities, converted a power play goal at the 2:25 mark to tie it at 10-10. Kostas Genidounias was credited with the game-winner with 40 seconds as the Bruins' made a turnover on their final possession.
Senior Matt Rapacz was stellar in his last game in the cage for UCLA with 12 saves. James Clark was credited with nine stops in goal for the Trojans.
No. 2 UCLA at No. 1 USC
USC Goals: Michael Rosenthal 3, Connor Virjee 2, Matt Burton 2, Nikola Vavic, Tobias Preuss, Mace Rapsey, Kostas Genidounias
USC Saves: James Clark 9