The UC Irvine’s Men’s Water Polo team managed to win last Thursday’s game, on Oct. 20, despite a last minute comeback attempt by the Loyola Marymount Lions.
By no means did the chilly weather that night take away from the excitement of the game. Players coaches and fans stood, yelling enthusiastically, while shivering each time a breeze came by.
Although the Anteaters (10-8) were four goals up in the beginning of the fourth quarter, LMU (12-13) made some impressive last-minute scores, bringing the final score to a tight 8-7.
Junior two-meter player Tim Hutten led the team by scoring three goals for UCI, one in each of the first three quarters. Two goals were added by senior driver Dreason Barry and junior driver Nate White, while sophomore driver Andrew Dunn scored the only goal for UCI in the fourth quarter, guaranteeing the victory.
Some impressive plays were seen on both sides, with UCI dominating the first three quarters of the game.
In fact, the Anteaters started off strong with a goal by White within the first minute-and-a-half of the game.
The end of the second quarter was especially illustrative of UCI’s starting drive. After Barry scored a goal with 1:19 left in the quarter, junior Lion Matt Reynolds quickly answered with a goal of his own 27 seconds later. The Anteaters immediately responded with another goal by Hutten, who received a well-calculated pass from freshman Brian La’O, with 31 seconds left, bringing the score to 4-2.
In accordance with the common theme of the night, the Anteaters answered aggressively when threatened by LMU. After Shaun Flood of LMU scored within the first minute of the second quarter and the LMU goalkeeper, Ian Elliot, blocked three consecutive shots, the Anteaters decided to take matters into their own hands.
Hutten managed to take control of the ball and immediately sprinted across the length of the pool ahead of all the other players, then made a pass to junior Cole Bitter as he situated himself directly in front of the goalkeeper. The chance to make a goal was lost when LMU’s junior Cutberto Hernandez fouled Bitter and was ejected from the game.
UCI had an opportunity to score another goal on a power play, but couldn’t come through.
Having won against LMU twice before, UCI almost failed to take advantage of the seemingly assured win.
‘It’s always hard playing a team you’ve beaten twice and trying to beat them a third time,’ Barry said. ‘You go into the game thinking you’ve already beat them and you know they’re going to be fired up trying to take that away from you.’
Within the last five-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter, LMU answered back and rallied with 4 goals, while UCI made only one.
LMU’s dominating player, Reynolds, scored three of the Lions’ seven goals. Endre Rex-Kiss, Mark Milovic and Ben Easton scored one goal each in the last quarter. Easton was able to take advantage of the fact that UCI was missing a player after Bitter committed a foul and was ejected, by scoring with 1:10 left in the game.
Although UCI came out with a win, many were not satisfied with the outcome. When asked what he felt the Anteaters did wrong, UCI Head Coach Marc Hunt said, ‘I think we gave up goals toward the end of the game and we probably got a little bit tentative. We made some poor decisions offensively.’
On the other hand, he had a positive opinion of the Lions’ effort and persistence.
‘They did a good job of not giving up. They were down by four goals at one point and they did a good job of staying with it and coming at us. A lot of teams would roll over, but they did a good job,’ Hunt said.
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