UCI Finishes Fifth in MPSF

UCI 10, UoP 9

UC Irvine captured a top five finish in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament after defeating University of Pacific in a triple overtime thriller on Nov. 27. Defying prior expectations of finishing ninth, the Anteaters won their second consecutive consolation match to finish within the top five. Senior Trent Baxter led in scoring with a game-high four goals, two of which came in overtime, while sophomore Mitch Wise contributed three goals.

“It’s a huge success for our program. In the beginning of the year our goal was to qualify for this tournament and have the best result we can have. We overachieved and fifth place is the best finish we could have,” said Coach Marc Hunt. “To be a young team and place in the top five nationally is a huge success.”

Taking a one point lead into the fourth quarter, UCI extended its lead in the opening thirty seconds to make it 6-4. However, the Tigers fought back with a 3-0 run to take a 7- 6 lead. The Tigers tried to defend their lead until at the end of regulation, but with 28 seconds remaining in the match, Wise came through with the game-tying goal to send UCI to overtime.

The first two overtimes saw Pacific taking the lead in both periods, but the Anteaters managed to score game-tying goals in both overtimes to stay alive in the match. Finally, with 2:27 left in the match, Baxter hit the game-winner to win the match at 10-9.

“It was a war,” said Hunt. “We weren’t fighting for the top five team in the conference; we were fighting for the top five team in the country. It was intense, it was exciting, it was satisfying. This is a team that has overachieved.  I’m very proud of them.”

UCI 5, Pepperdine 4

The MPSF consolation match went in UCI’s favor as they came away with a tight victory over No. 6 Pepperdine on Nov. 26. Senior Trent Baxter stood out amongst the Anteaters, scoring a game-high two goals.

The Waves opened up the scoring with a power play goal with more than five minutes left in the first period. The Anteaters answered back as sophomore Mitch Wise scored with a one man advantage as the first period ended with a 1-1 stalemate. Baxter would score at the start of the second period and from then on the exchange began.

Irvine never had larger than a one point lead as the Waves played keep up throughout the second and third period. With the match tied at 4-4 in the third period, junior Winston Newland scored the eventual game-winner with 2:45 left in the clock to send UCI to the fifth-place consolation match.

Cal 15, UCI 9

The UC Irvine men’s water polo team (15-12) fell out of contention from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Nov. 25 after suffering a loss to second-ranked UC Berkeley in the opening round. Senior Max Parrague, sophomore Brian Pickford and freshman Jacob Mourer scored two goals apiece in a tough loss.

The Anteaters grabbed their only lead of the match after the opening minute of the first quarter when Pickford scored on a power play for the first goal of the game. However, the Golden Bears answered back, scoring four consecutive goals, three of which came off power plays. Mourer scored with 1:22 left in the first period to cut Cal’s lead in half, but with three seconds left on the clock, the Golden Bears scored again to push their lead by three to make it 5-2.

In the second period, Parrague and senior Trent Baxter each scored to cut Cal’s lead by one, but the Golden Bears responded as Marin Balarin scored his only goal of the match to bring their lead back to 6-4.

UCI saw the deficit grow as they conceded two goals in the first minute and half, but UCI answered back starting at 5:21 left in the game with two power play goals to cut Cal’s lead to 8-6. The Golden Bears went 3-1 until the end of the third period to lead 11-7. UCI never came close as they scored only one goal in the final period.