No. 1 men’s water polo beats UCLA for conference title

first_imgIn a rainy MPSF Tournament final, the Men of Troy came out with a 9-6 victory in a hard-fought game against the Bruins.Unlike the last time USC and UCLA met in a No. 1 vs  No. 2 matchup, on Sunday the Trojans took a commanding early lead. In a defensively dominated first quarter which saw junior goalie McQuin Baron save five shots, senior driver Nick Bell began the day’s scoring around two minutes in. The Trojans would go on to lead 3-0 after the first quarter. “It’s always good having the confidence of having a two-, three-, four-goal lead on these guys,” Baron said. “But they’re very structured and confident team so they started edging back.”It looked like UCLA would begin drawing closer in the second, as they scored early in the quarter to cut the deficit to two goals. However, the Trojans were not going anywhere. Freshman driver Marin Dasic found the goal off of an assist from junior driver Blake Edwards and then Edwards himself extended the lead to 5-1 off a long shot. The Bruins lessened the damage when attacker Ryder Robert’s skip shot narrowly got past Baron at the end of the quarter. Four minutes into the second half, the Bruins and Trojans quickly traded goals, making the game 6-3 in favor of USC. Next, one of the most pivotal sequences of the game ensued. Baron saved a UCLA penalty, and then, seconds later, junior utility Bryce Hoerman netted. The Men of Troy held their biggest lead of the game, 7-3. Despite seizing control in the third quarter, the rest of the game was not devoid of drama. With USC up 7-4, Edwards had a chance to effectively seal the game on a penalty in the fourth quarter. However, UCLA goalie Garrett Danner was able to save the shot. Feeding off of that momentum, the Bruins’ Warren Synder scored to tighten the game at 7-5 and make yet another game between the rivals a tense affair down the stretch. The Trojans needed a big response, and they got one from Bell, who scored late in the fourth to extend the lead to three goals and destroy any hopes of a Bruin comeback. “I received the ball on two meters, and I knew that if I put that opportunity away, it would pretty much seal the game for us,” Bell said. “I was pretty pumped up when it happened.” With a final score of 9-5, the Men of Troy are now the 2016 MPSF Champions, which marks head coach Jovan Vavic’s tenth conference title. Baron’s performance was one of the most critical in the win, as he saved an incredible 16 shots in the team’s most important game up to this point. “It’s nice, but we haven’t finished it off yet,” Baron said. “We’ve still got to win the National Championship; that’s the most important one.”last_img read more