UCI men’s water polo (10-4, 1-0) took down San Jose State (5-7, 0-3) 13-4 last Friday, scoring 10 of the final 11 goals and opening the Golden Coast Conference with a decisive win.
The sixth-ranked ‘Eaters, fresh off a series of victories against Pepperdine and top-ranked UCLA, suffered a shaky first half against the San Jose Spartans, leaving UCI up only 4-3 by the end of the second quarter. Goals were spread across the team with junior Jack Trush, senior Lovre Milos, freshman Fynn Schuetze and senior Brendan Duffy each finding the back of the cage by halftime.
The ‘Eaters rallied in the third quarter, bolstering defense on the field and going 6-0 against the Spartans. Senior goalkeeper Matei Mateijevic guarded the cage against several shot attempts by San Jose while the ‘Eaters bypassed the Spartans’ sophomore goalkeeper T.J. Palmer for the six consecutive goals. Milos opened the quarter with a skip shot, followed by clear shots by Schuetze and senior Robby Stiefel. Sophomore Ian Fleenor scored twice in the final three minutes of the quarter, bringing the ‘Eaters up 10-3.
UCI’s Jack Trush sealed the ‘Eater victory in the final quarter, launching two more goals past Palmer. Sophomore Jon Polos also added a goal with just under four minutes on the clock. Besides letting in a shot by San Jose’s Justin Pickering, Matijevic maintained his momentum defending the cage as the clock ran out with 13-4 on the board.
Despite the overwhelming victory, Jack Trush, the ‘Eaters top scorer with three goals, critiqued the team’s sluggish first half.
“We came out pretty slow, but we knew going in that it would be a tough game, since San Jose always puts up a good fight,” Trush said. “We didn’t adjust properly in the beginning, but our counter in the third and fourth really pulled us up.”
Trush remained “confident, but wary” going into the Golden Coast Conference, noting, “We’re not there yet, but every game is a stepping stone.”
Head coach Marc Hunt credited Matijevic’s strong defense in the cage — 16 saves throughout the game — for buffering the ‘Eaters “defensive errors on the field” during the first half.
Coach Hunt also noted that after three consecutive wins, UCI can’t let its guard down, especially as the team heads north this week to take on University of the Pacific and UC Berkeley, both top-five teams.
“It’s huge to manage a victory in an opener like this,” Hunt said. “But for us to hold up, especially after last week’s win against UCLA, it’s important to stay consistent and not let our focus slip.”
UCI will face No. 4 Pacific in a GCC game this Friday, Oct. 13, and will play a non-conference game against No. 3 Cal the following day. The ‘Eaters next home game will be against Stanford on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.