UCLA Men's Water Polo to Play Stanford in NCAA Semifinals
The Bruins will take on the defending national champs with a berth in the title game on the line this afternoon.
The UCLA men’s water polo team made the NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament despite a 7-7 record. That’s because this season was comprised almost entirely of conference games and, just as I predicted at the start of the season the Big Four teams basically beat up on each other.
With only the Collegiate Water Polo Associaton, the MSPF and the Western Water Polo Association receiving automatic bids this year, the remaining three bids were awarded at-large. That allowed Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Southern Cal to all earn bids.
On Thursday, UCLA played an opening-round game against Cal Baptist while Southern Cal took on Bucknell.
The Bruins dispatched of Cal Baptist, 19-14, to advance to this afternoon’s game against Stanford. In the other game, Southern Cal topped Bucknell, 18-9, to advance to a game later today against UC Berkeley.
UCLA’s game on Thursday really wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. With the game already easily in hand, 19-11, the Bruins gave up three late goals in the final two minutes of the game, resulting in a 19-14 final. Not only that, but head coach Adam Wright used the Cal Baptist game as an opportunity to get backup goalkeeper Chase Honaker some playing time as well as a chance to rest starting goalie Bernardo Maurizi in the second half. Maurizi held Cal Baptist to just four goals in the first half before yielding to Honaker. UCLA led 9-4 at the half.
Finally, the “real” water polo season is here. It’s win or go home with a chance to play for the national title on the line. While Stanford did beat the Bruins in the MPSF Tournament, UCLA was responsible for handing the Cardinal two of their three losses on the year.
Now, the Bruins just need to beat them one more time.
NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament Semifinals
Opponents: #3 UCLA Bruins (7-7) vs. #1 Stanford Cardinal (6-3)
Game Time: 2:00 pm PT, Saturday, March 20, 2021
Where: Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, CA
Live TV/Audio: None
Live Stream: NCAA.com
Live Stats: TheFosh.net
NCAA Tournament Central