The UC Irvine men’s water polo team was defeated by the number one ranked University of Southern California Trojans at home Saturday afternoon. USC beat UCI with the final score 13-5 at Anteater Pool, leaving UCI with a 1-5 record this season.
With the Anteaters’ loss of the top four scorers who graduated this past year, the young team fought hard to beat USC with seven saves by sophomore goalkeeper Matt Johnson. Nevertheless, Head Coach Mark Hunt was pleased with the team’s defense in the first half.
“I thought we started strong, held well to game plan defensively and were able to force them into some turnovers and give us good offensive opportunities. The wheels fell off when we became lax with the ball offensively,” Hunt said.
All five goals for UCI were scored by different players, each contributing to the team’s battle against the Trojans.
In the first period, Jesse Hatch, the team’s only senior, and sophomore Griffin Lerman scored against USC to keep the score tight, with USC possessing a slight lead at 3-2. However, UCI failed to score in the second period, giving the Trojans a 6-2 lead going into the second half of the game.
Junior Thomas Kruip scored the first goal of the second half for the Anteaters in the third period, also making several strong attempts to score throughout the game. Sophomore Brandon Johnson followed Kruip’s goal, concluding the third period with the Anteaters trailing 8-4.
USC scored five goals in the fourth period despite Greg Enloe scoring the final goal for UCI. Although the Anteaters had various fierce but failed attempts in the fourth period, USC’s goalkeeper Joel Dennerly had 10 saves against UCI in the game.
UCI is ranked 8th in NCAA Division I and still have several opportunities to improve their ranking with 15 games left in regular season play. UCI will try to redeem themselves on Friday Oct. 3 when they face the 10th ranked UCSD in La Jolla. The Anteaters will return home to play UCSB on Sunday Oct. 5 at noon at Anteater Pool.
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