This past Saturday, Oct. 23, the eighth-ranked UC Irvine Men’s Water Polo team beat 15th-ranked Pacific 9-6 at the Anteater Aquatic Center.
This earned the Anteaters their first win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this season, bringing their MPSF record to 1-2.
The win also improved their overall record to 10-8.
Senior driver Rick Merlo led the Anteaters with three goals while junior Dreason Barry and sophomore Colin Mello, both drivers, each added two goals.
Senior 2-meter driver Dan Noon and sophomore driver Tim Hutten added a goal apiece.
The game got off to a slow start with each team scoring only one goal in seven minutes.
Merlo scored the lone goal in the first quarter for UCI.
When asked about how the team came out to play, Hutten said they seemed to be lacking intensity.
‘We didn’t come out too hard,’ Hutten said.
Pacific’s goal came in a man-up situation after Anteater driver Chris Peters received the exclusion.
The Anteaters then drew an exclusion themselves but failed to capitalize on the man-up opportunity.
However, shortly thereafter UCI drew a four-meter, which Merlo succeeded in making.
The game picked up in the second quarter with the Anteaters scoring four times while the Tigers only managed to put in one goal.
Hutten scored from two meters just after their man-up opportunity expired.
Less than one minute later, with over four minutes remaining in the quarter, Merlo added another goal, increasing the Anteaters’ lead to 3-1.
Two minutes after he scored a goal, Merlo stole an out-of-bounds pass and took it coast to coast for his third and final goal for the night.
In the third quarter, the Anteaters seemed to drop their level of play by and allowed the Tigers to outscore the Anteaters 2-1 in the quarter.
UCI Head Coach Ted Newland said the team’s performance ‘was very poor. We weren’t pressing the lanes at all. If we play how we should have we could kill this team.’
The Anteaters used the fourth quarter to hang on to their lead, winning the quarter 2-1.
At one point the Tigers’ senior two-meter man Julian Gonzalez drew a four-meter penalty, but UCI’s junior goalie Joe Wynne successfully saved Gonzalez’s attempt.
While the Anteaters netted nine goals, the shooting left much to be desired, according to Newland.
‘Our shots were terrible. The weak side was open often. We just didn’t shoot there,’ Newland said.
Although the shooting was not what it could be, there were several instances of nice passing between UCI’s players.
‘We had some really nice passes to Barry in the middle,’ Hutten said. ‘It was pretty nice having him in there because he can really get up for the ball.’
The Anteaters host fifth-ranked California on Sunday in a MPSF match, to which Newland responded, ‘If we play like we played [Saturday] we’ll lose 12-2.’
Even though the team didn’t think it was their best win, they still topped 15th-ranked Pacific in their third MPSF game.
Despite the criticism of his team’s play Saturday, when asked if there was anything noteworthy about the day’s game, Newland admitted there was one thing: ‘We won.’
UCI defeated No. 5 California the following day, 8-7 to sweep the weekend with two home wins in MPSF play.