No. 1 UCLA Fends Off No. 3 USC In MPSF Action|
Nov. 2, 2014
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- A packed house was on-hand for a bigtime battle between crosstown rivals tonight. USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center was filled to the brim with fans as the No. 3 Trojans and No. 1 Bruins locked horns in an MPSF men's water polo matchup. The back-and-forth affair eventually went the way of the Bruins, who made a second-half push to a 10-8 victory in tonight's SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup clash. No. 3 USC goes to 18-4 overall and 3-2 in MPSF play with the loss.
The tone of the game was set right out of the gates. UCLA struck on its first possession, and USC answered right back on a rocket from Rex Butler off the foul. The tug-of-war continued throughout the half as the rivals went goal for goal. In the first frame, Nick Bell responded to a UCLA counterattack score with a 6-on-5 blast, making it 2-2. And when UCLA went ahead again on a ricochet goal, Mihajlo Milicevic rifled in the equalizer once more for the Trojan cause to bring it to 3-3. That score would stand up to the second period, where USC turned the tide and struck first this time. After a huge defensive field block from Mac Carden, USC would go up on the power play at the other end. There, Butler fed James Walters for a searing score that gave USC its first lead of the game, up 4-3 with 7:03 on the clock. Once again, UCLA broke back, leveling it at 4-4 two minutes later. Not 20 seconds after, however, Butler found Milicevic again for the go-ahead goal. The rivalry madness raged on. The Bruins scored out of set less than a minute later, only to see USC's Lazar Pasuljevic blaze one through to make it 6-5. USC would flex some serious defensive muscle the rest of the frame, keyed by a huge penalty shot save from goalie McQuin Baron. Another Baron save and a clutch Kostas Genidounias field block kept the Bruins off the scoresheet for the last 4 minutes of the half, preserving a 6-5 USC lead at halftime.
In the third, however, the Bruins seemed to solve some of their offensive issues. Back-to-back goals from Ryder Roberts tugged UCLA into the lead. The lead would last barely 30 seconds, though, as Marc Vonderweidt hit Butler for his second of the day and another tie score at 7-7. The Bruins fired right back to snag back the lead, and USC would pull even once more when Milicevic fed Carden for a beautiful finish out of set on a USC power play. That 8-8 lockup -- which came with 23 seconds left in the frame -- looked like it would hold through to the close of the period. Instead, UCLA was the beneficiary of an eventual penalty shot. Milicevic was whistled for an exclusion with just seconds left in the period, but apparently did not register that he had earned the exclusion. He'd get whistled again for not leaving the field of play, putting UCLA back on the 5-meter penalty line for another try. Paul Reynolds nailed that one, and UCLA was back on top, up 9-8 on the way to the fourth.
Nothing would go for the Trojans in the fourth, while UCLA managed one early goal to pad its lead up to 10-8 in the first minute of the frame. In the remaining 7:14, USC came up empty, finishing up with the loss to the Bruins. USC goalie Baron hauled in an impressive 15 saves in the game, while UCLA's Garrett Danner notched 13. Approximately 2,500 fans were on-hand for tonight's game at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
USC will continue its MPSF push next week with two more conference matchups. The Trojans go to Long Beach State for a 12 p.m. contest on Saturday (Nov. 8) before heading over to UC Irvine on Sunday (Nov. 9) for another noon tilt.
#1 UCLA 10, #3 USC 8
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 15, Garrett Danner (UCLA) 13.