by Brian Sui
Photo Provided by UCI Athletics
The UCI men’s water polo team squared off against Pepperdine Waves this past Friday, Oct.18, in hopes of getting back on the winning column and finding redemption from their loss against Stanford.
The match started off with high intensity in the first period, with the Anteaters taking a quick 2-0 lead off the backs of sophomore Daniel Norman and junior Carson Arnett. Both were assisted by senior Bryant Joudrie. Pepperdine quickly answered back on a power play goal and cutting the lead in half, with UCI still up 2-1.
A one-on-nobody for Pepperdine on the counterattack was stopped by goalkeeper Collin Winters preventing a tie.
“I just saw a moment to come up big, wanted to help out the team,” Winters said about his save.
This would not be enough because after a call on junior Jason Evezard, another power play goal occured, tying up the game 2-2.
The Anteaters ended the first period with a power play goal from junior Casey Lynton, giving them a 3-2 lead. The period was defined by both teams’ strong defensive play as well as some questionable offense, with shots evening out to 7-7. Winters’ play on the defensive end proved to be a crucial factor for Irvine, as he made huge saves to keep the game close early on.
Both teams played exceptional defense to start off the second period. That ended when Pepperdine took a penalty and a pass from Joudrie gave Evezard his first goal of the night. This extended the lead to 4-2. Pepperdine quickly answered back with a power play goal of their own, bringing the score within one.
Back and forth goals were scored soon after that. The consistent Anteater power play struck again when freshman Chad Gornay scored, which was answered back, bringing the score to 5-4. A post up play by Jourdie gave Evezard his second goal of the game, while a Pepperdine shot from outside the five meter zone cut the lead to one, bringing it to 6-5 with UCI still in the lead.
The rest of the second period got out of hand for the Anteaters. Pepperdine scored three unanswered goals to end the period, leaving the Anteaters down 8-6. While UCI’s offense got some good chances to score, they were unable to capitalize on their end.
Pepperdine was able to find pockets in the Anteaters’ defense, which often resulted in goals.
“I think they were just getting more production on offense, we were kind of getting stuck at some points and making minor errors on offense that were leading to turnovers and they were just able to get some quick goals on the counterattack and that gave them the jump,” Lynton commented on Pepperdine’s comeback.
To start the third period, senior Chandler Mankins replaced Winters for the Anteaters. Mankins made some saves early in the period, but eventually the Waves were able to get the rebound and execute, making it 9-6 for Pepperdine.
The opponent made a goaltender switch almost halfway through the third. A shot from sophomore Zlatan Nikocevic around the six meter mark finally broke the scoreless streak for the Eaters, shrinking the lead 9-7 to put UCI within striking distance.
After some defensive pressure by Lynton forced Pepperdine to make a long pass, the Waves were still able to capitalize on the UCI defense, making it 10-7.
Back on the offensive side, Lynton squeezed a shot between the Pepperdine goalkeeper and the post, keeping UCI in the game 10-8.
The third period ended with another exclusion call on the Anteaters, which allowed the Waves to get another power play goal, ending the period up 11-8.
“They ramped up their physicality and we kind of stayed at the same level, so I think we were kind of backing down offensively,” Lynton said about the Pepperdine defense. “I think we were doing alright on defense but they were still just getting too many shots on the cage.”
The fourth period started with Winters as goalkeeper again, replacing Mankins. After a shot from Evezard went off the post, he was held down by two Pepperdine players. Upset that there was no call, Evezard stayed in the offensive zone where he hoped for a long pass opportunity. On the other side of the pool, Pepperdine scored a goal to make it 12-8 and Evezard received a minor act of misconduct.
Lynton scored his third of the night not soon afterwards, assisted by Arnett who received his third point of the night to bring the lead to 12-9. Winters made a series of saves while the Anteater offense was being pressured hard by the Waves.
Pepperdine’s offense got the better of Winters as they went up 13-9, but Joudrie managed to score with a little over two minutes left in the fourth to make it 13-10. The Anteater offense was able to get some good pressure at the end, but a Pepperdine goal sealed the deal as they won the match with a score of 14-10.
“We need to play without the whistle. Put the ball in the back of the net and that’s all that counts,” Evezard commented after the game on the team’s performance. “We just need to work on being more physical and protecting the ball more around the perimeter.”
The Anteaters fall to 6-9 this season after being defeated by San Jose State University on the 20th. The team will face UCLA on Sunday, Oct. 27 at home.