Looking to bounce back from a tough loss last week to Stanford, UC Irvine men’s water polo (12-8) did just that against the No. 8 ranked Pepperdine Waves.
In an exhaustive and dramatic fashion, the ‘Eaters bested Pepperdine, 6-5, after two periods of overtime. The night was defined by commanding defensive performances.
In the first period, the ‘Eaters didn’t waste any time, taking the 1-0 lead early. Senior goalkeeper Matej Matijevic kept the Waves off the board through most of the period with a series of great stops, frustrating the Pepperdine offense. Senior utility Lovre Milos doubled the ‘Eater’s lead with a diving shot, just before Pepperdine managed to score on a rebound shot to make it 2-1. The ‘Eaters and Waves traded goals to end the period, 3-2.
The second quarter, was also dictated by UCI’s lockdown defense. The ‘Eaters were able to bog down Pepperdine’s offense and keep them off the board for the entirety of the second quarter. Senior defender Kyle Trush scored the lone goal of the period with 6:37 left. From that point on both teams fought off what would have been momentum changing goals. The ‘Eaters took the period, 4-2.
After the half, UCI came back and in just 26 seconds into the third, senior attacker Robby Stiefel netted a goal giving the ‘Eaters a commanding 5-2 lead, the largest of the night. The waves responded, scoring three unanswered goals, the last of which came with 4:23 left, to lock the score at 5-5. The ‘Eaters made several stops on offensive chances for Pepperdine, to maintain the tie and end the quarter.
The fourth period resulted in no goals scored, but it was full of great action and choppy play. Each team tried desperately to score, and each team was inevitably shut down.
As the fourth drew to a close, play became even more heated and several penalties were dealt. Tied at five goals each, the game moved to a two-minute overtime period, where defense further ruled the day, resulting in a second overtime period.
It looked as if a third was going to be necessary as the period was coming to a close. But, with just four seconds left on the clock sophomore attacker Bryant Joudrie scored on a bullet shot, giving the ‘Eaters their victory in dramatic fashion and sending the stands into a rage. Joudrie’s goal was the first in over 15 minutes of scoreless play to end the game.
“In overtime we are trying to make the defensive stops first,” Jourdrie said of UCI’s strategy in overtime. “We just had to wait for the perfect opportunity to score.”
Next week the ‘Eaters defend their home against UCSD Wednesday and Long Beach Friday at home.