By Hunter Hermanson
No. 6 UCI men’s water polo (11-8) had their three game home winning streak upended by the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinals in a 5-11 loss Sunday evening at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
The ‘Eaters, coming off of a clutch 10-9 victory against the UCSB Gauchos last friday to end a four-game stint on the road, started off the game with a strong first quarter, closing the period with a 1-0 lead, spurred by a great touch pass between the Trush brothers that brought the first and only goal of the period. The first period was also highlighted by a great defensive performance from the ‘Eaters, who kept Stanford off the board, something many teams have had trouble with, as the Cardinals had won seven consecutive games coming into the bout against UCI.
After a tough second period due to several defensive lapses, UCI trailed 2-4 to start the third. The beginning of the period was dictated by an explosive goal from senior utility Lovre Milos who, when celebrating his goal, was dealt a penalty for his exuberance. This rally to regain momentum, however, was quickly shut down by Stanford who tacked on three goals to end the period 3-7.
While Head Coach Marc Hunt believed that his team had performed well in the opening and closing periods, he felt as though the team had some defensive lapses, specifically in the second and third.
“We were caught a few times defensively,” Coach Hunt said. “When that happens against a top ranked team in the country they will make you pay for it.”
The fourth period however, started off with a jolt of life, as senior defender Kyle Trush scored in the first 30 seconds, giving the ‘Eaters some hope. The fourth was defined by great defensive performances from both teams and ultimately the ‘Eaters fell to the Cardinals 5-11.
Despite a great performance in the fourth, Coach Hunt stated that the effort was “too little, too late” and stated that moving forward the team will remain focused and play “one game at a time.”
UCI men’s water polo has three games left before their conference tournament, all of which are against conference opponents and are at home where the ‘Eaters are now 3-1.
Kyle Trush, however, isn’t focused on the loss and is more concerned with moving forward.
“We have to come back next week…we have a big game against Pepperdine,” Kyle said. “ It is all or nothing right now, we have two weeks left until conference finals and we are in a good spot.”