Tigers Lose Lead Late, Fall To UCLA In MPSF Tournament Opener
Leading for nearly the entire match, the No. 7 Pacific men's water polo team was unable to withstand a late charge from second-ranked UCLA as the Tigers fell to the Bruins, 10-8, in a first-round game at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament Friday.
Pacific (12-11) will await the loser of this afternoon's California-Pepperdine match in a consolation bracket game tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. UCLA (26-3) will move onto the semifinals as it looks to defend its tournament title.
Sophomore Alex Obert led the Tigers with four goals while junior Balazs Erdelyi added a pair of scores. Junior goalkeeper Alex Malkis had a spectacular day in the cage, finishing with 13 saves, including a penalty block.
It took several minutes for both teams to get into a flow offensively as Obert gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at the 1:24 mark of the first quarter. After a UCLA score, freshman Casey Fleming put Pacific back up, 2-1, at the end of the first. The Tigers would dominate the second quarter, however, as Obert gave Pacific a 3-1 lead midway through the frame. UCLA answered with a goal of its own, but consecutive goals from Erdelyi spotted the Tigers a three-goal advantage as the second quarter wound down. A late goal from the Bruins cut Pacific's lead to two, 5-3, heading into intermission.
Obert's third and fourth goals gave the Tigers a 7-5 lead after three minutes of play, but UCLA would tie the match thanks to back-to-back scores two minutes later. Neither squad would score for the remainder of the period, sending it to a decisive fourth quarter tied up at 7-7.
The Bruins managed to recover the opening sprint and converted their first possession, giving them their first lead of the contest. Sophomore Sean Grady would finish a power play for the Tigers to knot the match at 8-8, but Pacific was held scoreless the rest of the way as UCLA found the back of the cage twice more to seal the win.
Josh Samuels and Aimone Barabino led the Bruins with two goals apiece. Goalkeeper Matt Rapacz collected seven saves.
Pacific split two contests with the third-seeded Golden Bears earlier this season and fell to the No. 6 Waves twice.
No. 2 UCLA 10, No. 7 Pacific 8
Pacific 2 - 3 - 2 - 1 -- 8
UCLA 1 - 2 - 4 - 3 -- 10
Pacific - Obert 4, Erdelyi 2, Fleming, Grady
UCLA - Barabino 2, Samuels 2, Fahlsing, Lenhart, L. Reynolds, P. Reynolds, Wendt, White
Malkis - 13
UCLA - Rapacz 7