USC Falls To UCLA In NCAA Title Match|
Dec. 6, 2015
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The USC men's water polo team got passed up by the top-seeded host UCLA in the Trojans' 11th straight trip to the NCAA title match. The Trojans took an early lead but the Bruins battled back to take relative control, turning a two-goal USC advantage into a 5-3 UCLA lead by halftime. The Trojans would be unable to make up that ground down the stretch, and the Bruins added one last goal with one second left to win the championship with a 10-7 final decision. USC finishes the year at 22-7 overall, while UCLA wraps 2015 with a perfect 30-0 record in winning its second straight national championship.
At the close of the tournament, USC's Blake Edwards and Mihajlo Milicevic were named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team, with McQuin Baron and Lachlan Edwards picking up spots on the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team.
USC came into the game with 14 Trojans with no more than one year under their belts and yet still heaped tremendous pressure on the top-seeded Bruins. The Trojans would rattle off three goals in the first seven minutes of the game to take a 3-1 lead on the Bruins. A nifty pass from James Walters let to an early bar-in blast from Grant Stein to open up the action. UCLA would equalize, only to see USC rattle in back-to-back goals to work back ahead. Walters again served up the assist, and another bar-in goal was whipped in by Matteo Morelli to nudge USC ahead 2-1. On USC's very next possession, Lachlan Edwards let loose a ripper from the post, and USC was holding a 3-1 lead with 1:50 on the clock in the first. USC's lead would melt away in the next stretch, as the Bruins plugged in two goals before the close of the first to even the score at 3-3. In the second, USC would come up empty while UCLA ticked off two more goals to lead the Trojans 5-3 at halftime.
USC broke its silence with a 6-on-5 strike from senior Mac Carden, playing in the third NCAA title match of his USC career. Morelli found Carden for the slam, and USC was within one, down 5-4 with 5:12 on the clock in the third. The equalizer would evade the Trojans, though. Instead, UCLA finished off a power play to go up by two again. But USC wasn't fazed. Bryce Hoerman hauled in a rebound and would hammer home the score to cut it to a one-goal game again with 1:58 remaining in the third. In the final minute of the frame, UCLA moved out again once more, and once more the Trojans fought back. Blake Edwards found brother Lachlan for the jam at the post on a power play, and USC was within reach, down 7-6 on the way into the fourth.
USC saw its title hopes begin to slip away in that last stretch as UCLA managed to wrap two goals around a missed 6-on-5 chance by the Trojans. With UCLA up 9-6, the Trojans worked to close the gap. Hoerman would hit Blake Edwards for a big goal at the post, and USC was within two, down 9-7 with 3:21 to go. That would be all the Trojan offense would muster, unfortunately. UCLA was able to hold off the Trojans, and instead of letting time run out, the Bruins opted for one last shot with a second left, netting the unnecessary goal to finish out the game as a 10-7 UCLA victory.
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 13, Garrett Danner (UCLA) 13.