The UC Irvine men’s water polo team has had no trouble making its games exciting this year. Of the 17 games they’ve played, eight have been decided by one point. In six of those eight games, the Anteaters have been victorious, but that was not the case against top-ranked UC Berkeley.
UCI lost to the Bears 10-11 after surrendering a game-tying goal by Cal’s Mike Hayes with two seconds remaining.
Berkeley fans probably wouldn’t have guessed that the 9-7 Anteaters would pose as much of a threat to the first-place 20-2 Bears, but it was the Anteaters who maintained a lead almost the entire match.
The Anteaters were looking like a well-oiled machine after the first quarter of play. They led Cal 5-1 after senior Tim Hutten slung two of his team-high three goals in the opening period.
Berkeley managed to break into the lead as halftime approached, cutting the UCI lead to 7-6. But the Anteaters played flawless defense in the third period, keeping Cal at six goals entering the final quarter.
Cal’s offense didn’t stay bottled up for long, however. They scored the first three goals of the fourth period, giving them a 9-8 lead.
Luckily, Hutten launched his third goal of the game at an impeccable time. With 1:26 remaining, the two-meter tied the game 9-9.
Having transitioned the momentum to their side, the Anteaters had their eyes set on upsetting the top-ranked men’s water polo team. When senior Colin Mello notched the tie-breaking goal with 56 seconds left, the upset looked like it was turning into a reality.
It looked that way for the next 54 seconds.
Sadly, that was as long as UCI could hold on. Cal’s goal with two seconds remaining sent the game into overtime.
After each team held the other scoreless for the first three-minute overtime, Cal was able to avert the upset and score the game-winning goal with 1:15 left in the second overtime.
But Hutten and the Anteaters didn’t hang their heads for very long; they took their frustrations out on the University of the Pacific Saturday night.
UCI cruised past Pacific in a decisive 13-7 victory the next day. Once again it was Hutten who led the Anteaters in scoring, this time finding the net on five occasions.
Three of Hutten’s goals came in the first half
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