The ’Eaters fell to the Trojans with an 18-7 finish on Thursday evening at UC Irvine
On Thursday night at the Anteater Pool, eighth-ranked UCI took on the No. 1 USC Trojans but were unable to secure the victory as USC finished on top 18-7, unfortunately leaving the seniors defeated by the Trojans in all four meetings as Anteaters.
Although the ’Eaters played well offensively, their defense cost them the game. The ’Eaters record now falls to 14-6 overall and 0-3 in conference games.
Junior Bojan Hrlec scored the first goal for the ’Eaters early in the game. The next goal, also scored by Hrlec, came much later in the quarter with a little over a minute left.
The Trojans came out strong, gaining a 3-1 lead in less than three minutes. The Trojans scored two more times, the second with only 39 seconds left in the quarter, ending the first quarter with a 5-2 lead over the ’Eaters.
The Trojans continued to expand their lead in the second quarter with two quick goals less than a minute into the second quarter. Junior Mitch Wise answered back seconds later with a goal, followed with a save by goalkeeper, junior Alex Kazmier. The Trojans went on to score one more goal before the ’Eaters had an unsuccessful offensive run of three blocked shot attempts. The ’Eaters went cold as the Trojans scored three more goals, ending the half with a comfortable 11-3 lead over the ’Eaters.
“We lost two key players, our starting goalie, Jimmy Friedrich, and defensive specialist, Brian Pickford, to injuries this season, so one of our biggest weaknesses right now is filling in those defensive slots,” head coach Marc Hunt said. “Looking at the score, from a defensive standpoint, we need to improve.”
The Trojans scored the first goal of the second half, but Wise and sophomore Alan Robertson scored a goal apiece, closing the Trojans lead to 12-5. Bailey had two major saves before USC scored two more goals with a little under two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Hrlec scored his third goal with one minute left in the quarter. In the ’Eaters final offensive drive in the third quarter, the shot clock expired, allowing USC to score one last goal in the quarter with only three seconds left. ’Eaters ended the third quarter down 15-6.
With sophomore Dylan Peterson’s entrance into the game as goalkeeper for the ’Eaters, the Trojans did not see their first goal for more than three minutes into the quarter. The ’Eaters went dry, only scoring one goal in this final quarter, the third goal from Wise. The Trojans scored two more goals in the fourth quarter with a final score of 18-7 in favor of the Trojans.
“USC holds a goals-against average of 4.8, so I’m pleased with our output offensively,” Coach Hunt said. “USC is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but we play them all the time so it is not a surprise that we are dealing with them.
“This is a hard working group; they’re resilient. They want to improve and they understand what they need to work on … I trust that we’re going to go to practice and work.”