UC Irvine’s men’s water polo team put on a valiant effort, but in the end fell to California 19-15 in a high-scoring shootout last Sunday afternoon at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation meeting was the first of the season between the two schools. Coming into the game, the tenth-ranked ‘Eaters sported a conference record of 1-3 while the fourth-ranked Bears were 2-1 in league play.
To the pleasure of the home crowd, it didn’t take long for UCI to score, as the Anteaters held an early 2-0 lead off of goals by Jacob Mourer and Larson Pfeil respectively. Junior goalkeeper Dylan Peterson, who finished with 13 saves, had a strong showing early on, blocking several attempts by the visiting Bears, but a last second goal slipped by to even the score 3-3 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Cal quickly forged a notable lead for itself after scoring three unanswered. Though the Anteaters managed to retaliate with three goals of their own, Cal wound up outscoring the home team 6-3 to head into the half with a 9-6 lead.
Russel Kwok | Photography Intern
The third quarter saw both teams score five goals apiece, with the Anteaters coming to within one at 11-10 off a goal by freshman Matt Skinner with 2:59 left. However, anytime Irvine was within striking distance Cal would pull away. The visitors mustered three more goals before the quarter’s end to go into the fourth holding the 14-11 advantage.
Kicking off the fourth quarter, sophomore Kyle Trush and junior Jared Osborn found the net to bring the ‘Eaters within one once again at 14-13 with 6:33 remaining in regulation. As UCI once again threatened Cal’s lead, the hometown crowd came alive with shouts of “UCI!” Both teams would convert on penalty shot opportunities to keep the score at a one point differential at 15-14 with Cal leading. The Bear’s offense kicked into high gear at the end, scoring the next four goals to go up 19-14 to effectively put the game out of reach. Trush would score the final goal of the game off a power play with 2:35 left.
“Our weakness is maintaining the composure defensively, some of the goals that their putting away our, we should be covering, we should be on top of them, we shouldn’t be giving up 9-18 goals I think,” head coach Marc Hunt said .
UC Irvine currently has five more regular season games remaining, with three of them taking place at home. The Anteaters will look to bounce back next weekend when they travel to No. 11 Pepperdine for an MPSF game at 12:00 p.m.
Despite today’s lost, Coach Hunt is optimistic about the future development of his team.
“I like that this is a young team, we’re playing a large number of freshman and sophomores, I like that they’re showing some guts. If you noticed, it was a very physical game at moments and I’m glad to see that our guys aren’t backing down, our games are staying strong,” Coach Hunt said.