MPSF Tournament Await Men's Water Polo
The Pacific men's water polo team will make the trip down I-5 to Los Angeles for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament this weekend, where they will face second-ranked UCLA in a first-round match at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23. The tournament will take place over three days at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.
The Tigers (12-10, 3-5 MPSF) wrapped up their regular season last weekend, dropping a pair of matches to their Northern California rivals. Pacific fell at Stanford, 12-9, last Friday night before losing its home finale to California, 11-9, Sunday afternoon. Pacific mounted late charges in both contests, pulling to within one goal in the fourth quarter only to repelled down the stretch. Junior Balazs Erdelyi scored a total of six goals over the weekend, including a five-goal outing against the Golden Bears. Junior Kevin Oliveira and freshman Aleksandar Petrovic scored four goals apiece. Junior goalkeeper Alex Malkis racked up a total of 26 saves, 17 of which came versus California.
Erdelyi had a stellar 2012 campaign for Pacific, making a strong case for the Cutino Award, the annual honor given out to the top water polo player in America. He leads the MPSF with 77 goals and a 3.67 goals-per-game average. He is one of only two players to record more than 70 goals, and his average is one of only three over 3.00. The Hungarian attacker finished the regular season with 18 multi-goal games in 21 appearances, including five four-goal outings, four five score performances and a pair of six-goal showings. He set a new career high against Santa Clara back in October, going for nine goals, the most scored by a Pacific player since at least 1997.
UCLA (25-3, 7-1 MPSF) enter Friday's contest as a winner in 11 of its past 13 games. The Bruins had their 10-game winning streak snapped by No. 1 USC on Nov. 17, falling by one goal to the undefeated Trojans. Josh Samuels leads the UCLA offense with 58 goals on the year, good for an average of 2.23 scores per game. Griffin White (39 goals) and Paul Reynolds (38 goals) bolster the Bruins' attack while goalkeeper averages 9.30 saves per game and allows just 6.26 goals per game.
The Tigers fell to the Bruins twice this season, losing the first meeting, 9-4, at the NorCal Tournament back in September before dropping a home contest earlier this month, 13-10. Erdelyi and Petrovic scored a total of four goals apiece against UCLA this year while Malkis tallied a total of 20 saves.
Third-seeded California and sixth-seeded Pepperdine are also in Pacific's sub-bracket at the tournament. If the Tigers defeat UCLA, they will face the winner of the other first-round match at 3 p.m. Saturday. Fall to the Bruins and Pacific will move into the loser's bracket, where they will play either the Golden Bears or the Waves at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
The official tournament website can be found here.