The ninth-ranked UC Irvine Men’s Water Polo team was unstoppable in their game against the 19th-ranked Cal Baptist at the Anteater Aquatics Complex, Oct. 1, beating the Lancers 17-5 in the nonconference matchup.
Anteater Head Coach Ted Newland was happy with the outcome of the game.
‘It’s always nice winning. We executed pretty well,’ Newland said. ‘When you win it’s nice.’
Coming out hard in the beginning of the game was junior utility Cameron Bassett, earning Irvine an ejection and putting the ball in the net at the 1:30 mark.
It appeared as though Irvine’s momentum would never stop, as the Anteaters [6-6] capitalized on their speed, leaving the Lancers [4-9] in their wake as they scored four goals off the counter-attack.
Senior driver Phil Garcia led the team on the counter-attack and justified his status as a deadly outside shooter when left unguarded. Garcia tallied a career-high five goals against Cal Baptist junior goalie Mike Riegelmann, who had only three saves in the game. Junior driver Darren Nietzley led the Lancers with two goals.
Junior utility Rick Merlo, who added three goals to UCI’s victory thought the team played well.
‘It was a good game for us to show ourselves what we could do,’ Merlo said.
Up-and-coming freshman driver Kurt Merlo, who added a goal to the Anteater’s final score of 17, agreed with his older brother, adding, ‘We really proved to everyone how good we can play when we play like a team.’
UCI never let up on Cal Baptist throughout the game. Sophomore goalkeeper Joe Wynne added seven saves to his stat sheet, even shutting out the Lancers in the fourth quarter, to which the Anteaters added five goals during the period.
Junior hole-set Dan Noon was out of control at 2-meters with the help of the constantly moving UCI offense.
Rattling off two finely executed backhand shots and a layout lob that the announcer dubbed a ‘Wilt Chamberlin finger roll,’ Noon contributed four goals to the win. Noon now has a total of 34 goals on the year making him the team’s leading scorer.
Early into the second half, senior 2-meter player Matt Moore for Cal Baptist was majored from the game with three ejections. UCI took advantage of every man-up opportunity.
The Anteaters scored five goals in 6-on-5 situations including one goal from freshman driver Colin Mello.
Assistant coach Mark Hunt saw the game as an opportunity to gain experience for his players. With such a big lead, UCI was able to play deeper into its roster, giving the players on the bench playing time in the game.
‘Every game we play gives our young team experience we need to prepare for the next one,’ Hunt said. ‘Games like this help our team tremendously.’
The Anteaters anxiously await the coming weekend when they head up north to the Nor Cal Tournament held at Stanford University. The Anteaters are excited to go into the tournament after a well-played game.
‘It’s good going into a big tournament like the Nor Cal Tournament on a win. That way we have high confidence going into it,’ Noon said.
Bassett believes that the Cal Baptist game was a good warm-up for this weekend.
‘We started off with this game and we’re trying to carry it over into this weekend,’ Bassett said.