No.7 UC Irvine men’s water polo team (11-7, 1-3) were routed by the number one team in the nation, UCLA (21-0, 5-0), Sunday afternoon in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) matchup by a score of 15-8 at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
A seven goal flurry by the undefeated Bruins in the first period put away the Anteaters early as they failed to cut the deficit to a reachable amount.
“I feel like our energy level just wasn’t there in the first quarter when we needed it”, said UCI head coach Marc Hunt, “They jumped on us 7-1 and we just never recovered after that.”
Seven different Bruins scored in the game with sophomore Max Irving leading the game with four goals while the duo of junior Patrick Fellner and senior Anthony Daboub with hat tricks a piece. Seniors Jared Osborn and Pablo Carballo also contributed to the Anteater effort with a hat trick and a brace respectively.
The Bruins opening 4-0 run was halted when Carballo found the back of the net to reward the ‘Eaters’ their first goal of the match. UCLA would quickly answer and extend their lead to 6-1 before senior Chris Swieca scored from an inside pass to cut the Bruin lead to five to end the first period.
With the Bruins’ defense being stingy all game long, UCLA kept the ‘Eaters to just three goals in the first half. UCLA junior goalkeeper Garrett Danner had a good performance protecting the cage with 14 saves. The Bruins would go on to score three goals in the second period to extend their lead going into halftime, 10-3.
UCLA’s elite offense would go on for a four goal swing before sophomore Matt Skinner would score the closing goal in the third period cutting the lead to 12-4 in favor of UCLA.
UCI endured the barrage of the Bruins and was able to show some life in the fourth quarter with two consecutive goals from Osborn to open the period. Osborn’s second goal of the contest came from a seeking outlet pass from sophomore goalkeeper Byron Rivers where Osborn was met by the Bruin keeper in an ‘Eater fastbreak, only for the ball to float right into the defenseless goal. Both teams would continue to trade goals in the final four minutes of the game to give the Bruins their 21st consecutive victory of the season, which ties their second best streak in program history.
“What we’ve got to improve on is we’ve got to make sure when the whistle blows, we’re bringing our highest level of intensity”, Hunt said of his team’s performance.
Despite the loss, UCI still sits in seventh place of the conference after four games. The ‘Eaters will go on to Santa Barbara to face the No.8 Gauchos on Saturday before returning to the Anteater Aquatics Complex to host the No.5 Stanford Cardinal at noon in MPSF conference play.