The No. 6 Anteaters fell to the No. 2 USC Trojans 11-5 on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Anteater Pool. USC shut down UC Irvine’s pressure and goal attempts as they led the game in both halves. With the loss, UC Irvine’s overall record stands at 16-7 and 4-4 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
“I think we put forth a strong effort but just not a very smart effort,” Head Coach Marc Hunt said. “I think they scored seven of their first 5-on-7 opportunities in the first half which put a lot of pressure on us. Defensively overall, we were pretty strong until we went to our man-down defense and [USC] gave us a lot of problems.”
USC took the first possession and within three minutes scored the first goal of the quarter. Three minutes later, USC shot two more goals and UCI trailed until the last five seconds when senior Doug Lindsey made a skip shot into the back of the net.
In the second quarter, USC pressured the Anteater defense and notched two more goals within three minutes. With five minutes left in the first half, senior Tom Kruip sent another skip shot into the net, making the score 5-2.
In the second half, UCI trailed 7-2 until USC scored, twice with less than four minutes remaining, increasing the deficit to 9-2. With one minute remaining in the third quarter, UCI was awarded a penalty shot which Doug Lindsey successfully netted, making the score 9-3.
“Our 6-on-6 defense was much stronger than I have seen in the past,” Coach Hunt said. “The weakness was a couple of breakdowns: a couple of our guys were excluded and we’re down 6-on-5 … and just got taken apart.”
To begin the last quarter, Tom Kruip scored an outside low skip shot into the net, making the score 9-4 a minute in. With just four minutes left however, USC reciprocated with a goal, increasing the lead to 10-4. Just 30 seconds later, Lindsey was awarded another penalty shot and he slammed the ball into the net for a goal. One minute later, USC scored the last goal of the game with just under three minutes left, making the final score 11-5.
UCI outnumbered USC in shots attempted 12 to 8 but they failed to convert those shots into goals. Goalkeeper Matt Johnson let in 11 goals and saved eight.
“Our defense was good but [USC] scored most of their goals on 6-on-5 and that is when we were a man down,” senior Tom Kruip said. “We are clearly a good enough team and should not take those ejections … I think that’s what ultimately led to our loss.”
For UCI seniors Kyle Baxter, Brandon Johnson, Matt Johnson, Kyle Kruip, Tom Kruip, Griffin Lerman and Doug Lindsey, this marked their last home game.
“It’s my last tournament and I want to give it all I got,” Kruip said. “I don’t want to be leaving with any regrets, so play hard and win.”
Anteaters travel to Stanford University to compete in the MPSF Tournament next weekend, Nov. 26-28.
“We’ve got a tough road in front of us to make the NCAA tournament,” Coach Hunt said. “We have to win the tournament at Stanford and it’s got to be three great games and to do that, we have to adjust to what our mistakes have been in the past.”