Water polo still winless vs. Bruins in program history

After a successful nine-game winning streak from Sep. 18 through Oct. 15, the No. 6 UCSD men’s water polo hit a rough patch on the road against some of the top-ranked schools in the nation, decreasing the team’s overall record to 20-6. The Tritons faced No. 4 UCLA on Oct. 21 in the second game of their two-game road trip to Los Angeles, one of the most anticipated games of the season.

The Tritons held the lead for the first three quarters of the match but were unable to close the game for the win in the end. Senior Jonathan Hopkins scored first, but the Bruins answered with a tying goal with a minute left in the first quarter.

The Tritons started strong in the second quarter with senior Brandon Borso netting a goal at the 6 minute, 25 second mark, and four minutes later sophomore Adnan Jerkovic made another goal, making the score 3-1. Refusing to be left behind, UCLA added another tally to their mark but Hopkins extended the Tritons’ lead, adding another goal with 45 seconds left in the quarter. Unfortunately, the Bruins pulled within one goal with the last possession of the quarter, making the score 4-3 before the buzzer sounded.

Each team scored a goal apiece in the third quarter, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Bruins secured the win. UCLA opened the fourth quarter by netting a goal with 6:24 left in the match to tie it up at 5-5. The Bruins’ captain, David Pietsch, then scored the winning goal of the game with five minutes remaining in the match.

The Tritons had one last scoring opportunity with 19 seconds left; unfortunately, the team was unable to convert their last break when senior goalkeeper Colin McElroy’s pass was intercepted by the Bruins’ Thomas Foley.

The game was marked by 13 combined ejections between the two teams, as the Bruins extended their all-time winning streak against the Tritons to 43.

On Oct. 20, the day before, the Tritons faced No. 5 Pepperdine for a rematch of a disappointing 12-7 loss only four days earlier. The Tritons found themselves in the hole 1-3 at the start, but came back for the tie with Hopkins scoring two goals at the end of the first quarter.

Pepperdine came out strong in the second quarter netting three goals, leaving the Tritons behind 3-6, but seniors Chris Eichholz and Chris Finegold scored back-to-back goals to put the Tritons back into the match 3-5 by the end of the first half.

The Tritons were never able to take the lead in the match; the men were outscored 2-3 in the third quarter and the two teams ended the match with two goals apiece, making the final score 9-11 in favor of Pepperdine.

The Tritons will have the chance to recuperate with a week’s rest before they face No. 7 UC Irvine on Oct. 28 for the second time this season and No. 11 Loyola Marymount University on Oct. 29.