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UCLA Men's Water Polo Beats Southern Cal for Bruins' 119th NCAA Title
The Bruins beat the Trojans in their own pool to win the national title, 7-6.
The UCLA men’s water polo team has won the school’s first NCAA title since the Bruin softball team won the 2019 title.
The Bruins never trailed the Trojans in today’s game, even though it took almost the entire first period for them to get on the board. With 2:02 left in the first quarter, freshman Mo Kenney scored the only goal of the period for either team.
Tommy Gruwell put the Bruins ahead by two, 43 seconds into the second quarter while Evan Rosenfeld gave UCLA a 3-0 advantage when he scored the final goal of the first half with 5:37 left.
Southern Cal finally got on the board to start the scoring in the second half when Jacob Mercap’s power play goal found its target with 6:36 left in the third. It was the first of four Trojan goals in the third quarter. Chris Sturtevant cut the Bruins’ lead to just one goal with 4:42 to go, but Jake Cavano countered 56 later to put UCLA ahead 4-2. Jake Ehrhardt cut the lead in half again with 2:52 to go and Carson Kranz tied the game, 4-4, just 35 seconds later. Chasen Travisano wasn’t having any of that though and he put UCLA back in front with 1:53 left. That goal gave UCLA a 5-4 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Nicolas Saveljic found the back of the net on a power play goal for the first goal of the final quarter while Cavano stretched the Bruins’ lead to 7-4 on another Bruin power play with 6:23 to go in the game. That would be all the Bruins would need even though the Trojans would Mercap and Kranz would pull them within one with 3:25 to go.
The nature of this game, though, was defense. Goalie Bernardo Maurizi stopped nine of the Trojans’ 15 shots on goal, but even that doesn’t tell the story. What won this game for the Bruins was their overall defensive effort.
UCLA stymied the Southern Cal offense at what seemed to be just about every turn. The Bruins recorded a total of 14 steals for the game and it was those steals that kept the Trojans from shooting more shots on goal than they actually had. If it wasn’t for the defensive effort by UCLA, the Trojans would have taken home this title.
Except that they didn’t. The Bruins played incredible defense and they got just enough offense and the UCLA men’s water polo team has captured the school’s 119th NCAA national championship.