USC and Loyola Marymount hosted Mountain Pacific Invitational which took place on September 22-24. UCLA Bruins defended the title and host USC water polo club finished 2nd. Cal Bears won the 3rd place, while Stanford water polo players ended up being 4th.
DAY 1: TOP 4 TEAMS MAKE NO MISTAKES
On September 22, Cal water polo club toppled Air Force, 24:7. Garrett Fisk scored the opener putting the Air Force squad into the lead, but Vassilis Tzavaras equalized. After that Johnny Hooper, Pedro Stellet, Ethan Wojchiechowski and Nicholas Carniglia increased Cal’s advantage to four. Luke Andres brought down the difference to three before the start of the second period (5:2). Cal squad proved too strong and just kept increasing the advantage. The game’s top scorer was Hooper with five goals.
Cal 24:7 Air Force
(5:2, 5:1, 8:2, 6:2)
USC rolled past San Jose State, 18:9. Trojans’ rival had no chance of jeopardizing their win as USC water polo players scored four unanswered goals in the first quarter and added four more in the second for a six-goal lead at halftime (8:2). SJS woke up in the second half but was not able to overcome the difference.
USC 18:9 San Jose State
(4:0, 4:2, 6:4, 4:3)
UCLA water polo team prevailed over Loyola Marymount, 7:4, in a match in which the winner was not determined until the last quarter. Bruins left their opponent scoreless in the first quarter, but then scored no goals in the second and the result was tied at halftime (2:2). James Robinson was the only scorer in the third period so UCLA entered the final period with a minimum advantage (3:2). Then four consecutive goals by the Bruins followed – Luke Henriksson, Max Irving, Eric Goldenberg and Robinson increased UCLA’s lead to five with less than three minutes left on the clock. Loyola Marymount managed only to bring down the deficit to two.
UCLA 7:4 Loyola Marymount
(2:0, 0:2, 1:0, 4:2)
Stanford water polo players recorded a convincing 20:7 win against Pomona-Pitzer. Powerful Cardinal netted seven goals in the first quarter for a six-goal advantage (7:1) and increased it to nine by halftime (11:2), eliminating all doubts about who would win the game. Stanford took their foot off the gas in the second half but kept their defense on point, so Pomona-Pitzer had no chance of coming back.
Stanford 20:7 Pomona-Pitzer
(7:1, 4:1, 4:2, 5:3)
DAY 2: UCLA UPSET CAL, USC EDGE OUT STANFORD
Cal water polo players reached the semifinals by beating Pepperdine, 12:10, but lost to UCLA, 8:9, and failed to advance to the finals. Odysseas Masmanidis quickly scored an opener against Pepperdine, but the Waves responded and a pair of Christopher Dilworth’s goals followed. Mate Toth raised the difference to two, after which Luca Cupido brought it back to one. Toth scored again, but Cal was down by one again at the end of the first quarter (3:4) thanks to Masmanidis. Cal took over the lead in the second period and even went ahead 7:4 after Masmanidis and Carniglia each netted a goal, while Hooper added two. Pepperdine refused to surrender and brought down the difference to one before the halftime. The Bears had their defense on point and kept the control in spite of the fact that their opponents tied the result on three occasions in the third period.
Cal 12:10 Pepperdine
(3:4, 4:2, 4:3, 1:1)
However, Bears failed to advance to the finals due to their loss to UCLA, 9:8, after overtime. Bruins previously recorded a narrow 9:8 victory over Pacific water polo squad. That game was full of excitement and although Pacific water polo players were leading only on one occasion, in the second quarter, they kept parity during the entire match.
UCLA 9:8 Pacific
(2:1, 0:2, 4:2, 3:3)
The derby between Cal and UCLA finished in a draw, 6:6, after four quarters. Cal was trailing during the entire game, UCLA had a minimum advantage in the final minutes, but Hooper netted the crucial goal with 1:20 left on the clock and the match went into overtime. Masmanidis scored and Cal went ahead 7:6, but UCLA came back and kept the lead until the end. Nicolas Saveljic recorded a hat trick and was UCLA’s top scorer, while Bears were led by Cupido who scored four goals.
UCLA 9:8 Cal
(2:1, 1:1, 2:2, 1:2 – 3:2)
Day 2 saw USC Trojans collect two narrow wins and advance to the final battle with UCLA. UC Irvine water polo players were overpowered thanks to a spectacular fourth period in which the Trojans scored four goals leaving the rival scoreless. UCI got off to a better start and was leading 8:5 at halftime, but only held on until the third quarter.
USC 10:9 UC Irvine
(4:6, 1:2, 1:1, 4:0)
The 11:10 triumph over Stanford led the host USC to the finals, while Stanford proceeded to the 3rd place match due to this loss. Stanford’s Cody Smith netted an opener, after which Trojans Matt Maier, Mihajlo Milicevic, and Bryce Hoerman each netted a goal and gave their team a two-goal advantage. Stanford responded forcefully in the second quarter with four goals, while Thomas Dunstan was the only USC’s scorer. Thus Cardinal had a minimum advantage at halftime (5:4). As the third period ended in a draw, the winner was to be determined in the final eight minutes. Stanford was leading (8:7) at the beginning of the fourth period, but Dunstan and Lachlan Edwards put USC back into the lead. Trojans stepped up their game, so Cardinal only managed to equalize on three more occasions but failed to take over the lead.
USC 11:10 Stanford
(3:1, 1:4, 3:3, 4:2)
Even though Cardinal squad was down by one after eight minutes of play (1:2), they came back in the second quarter, netted four unanswered goals and went on a break with a three-goal lead (5:2). They went ahead 6:2 at the start of the second half, after which LBS cut their shooting streak, but not for long. Stanford confidently kept the advantage and eventually triumphed.
Stanford 9:6 Long Beach State
(1:2, 4:0, 3:1, 1:3)
DAY 3: UCLA DEFEND TITLE AGAINST USC, CAL HOLD OFF STANFORD FOR 3RD PLACE
In the match for the 3rd place, Cal prevailed over Stanford, 11:9. Bears got off to a better start as Nikos Delagrammatickas scored the opener and Masmanidis and Hooper increased Cal’s lead to three by the middle of the first quarter. Then the Cardinal woke up – Sam Pfeil and Harrison Enright brought down the deficit to one before the second period (3:2). Connor Stapleton equalized, but Carniglia brought the Bruins back into the lead. However, Cody Smith made the result tied again. Then Reid Chase found the net and Stanford went on a break leading for the first time during the match (5:4). Cal water polo players continued to struggle in the third quarter but finished it with one-goal advantage (8:7). It seemed that Stanford was lacking strength in the final period to achieve a triumph. Bears had a three-goal advantage on two occasions and were in command until the end. In the end, Cal water polo players won the 3rd place, while Stanford finished 4th. Hooper was the game’s top scorer with four goals, and Cupido added three.
Cal 11:9 Stanford
(3:2, 1:3, 4:2, 3:2)
The final clash saw the reigning MPSF champions UCLA Bruins edge out USC Trojans, 13:11, and keep the title. In a very exciting match, UCLA water polo players overcame a two-goal deficit from the first quarter (2:4) and the first half ended in a draw. Marko Vavic scored the opener for USC, but Saveljic quickly equalized. After Alex Roelse put Bruins into the lead, Grant Stein made the result tied again. Trojans stepped up their offense and netted two more goals in the first quarter for a nice advantage (4:2). UCLA responded in the second period and managed to equalize on three occasions. The result was 6:6 after the first half. In the third quarter, teams were taking turns in scoring but UCLA Bruins were never trailing, and USC was unable to steal the lead. UCLA celebrated defending the MPSF title, while the Trojans had to satisfy themselves with the 2nd sport. Bruins were led by Irving who scored six goals.
UCLA 13:11 USC
(2:4, 4:2, 3:2, 4:3)