No. 3 UCLA Pulls Away From Triton Water Polo

    Michelle Jaconette / Guardian File

    MEN’S WATER POLO — The No. 12 Men’s Water Polo team lost to No. 3 UCLA on Saturday, falling 12-4 despite staying with the Bruins early on.

    “We came out and gave up a couple goals early,” sophomore utility Brian Donohoe said. “[We] were able to salvage that and tie it up at three, which gave us the impression that we could play with these guys. But we just made some mistakes, we turned the ball over a couple too many times and they capitalized on our mistakes. They were able to put away goals and kind of put the game away early.”

    Three goals by UCSD’s Ryan Allred, Jakub Bednarek and Graham Saber tied the score at 3-3 in the first quarter, but the Bruins quickly shot ahead and found net three more times before the quarter ended.

    “We just fought back in the first half and got it to 3-3, but we gave up three goals in 40 seconds,” head coach Denny Harper said. “That’s certainly a first for me. We corrected that to a certain degree; we did not lose the ball anymore the way that we did on the perimeter, but to be fair, this is a UCLA team that I think most people feel is a likely national champion. They’re big, strong, fast and are paid to play.”

    UCLA kept the lead for the rest of the game as the Tritons were unable to find the offense to turn the game around. Senior driver Bryce Madsen added the final Triton goal, making it 8-4 at halftime.

    “It was definitely offensive mistakes turning into counterattack opportunities for them, and stringing our goalie out and not giving him an opportunity to make a save,” Donohoe said. “Just sloppy fundamentals and bad passing around the perimeter. But we did get up and down the pool a lot better than we had at different times in the season.

    The team plans on working on converting man advantage situations in practice this week to gear up for their next set of matches.

    “It’s certainly tough enough to beat a team like this, but if we can’t convert some 6-on-5’s, there’s not going to be much of a chance,” Harper said. “Getting the ball past Bruin defenders is really tough. We’ll continue to work on our 6-on-5 and hope that improves down the stretch here.”

    The Tritons won’t be able to dwell on their loss, as they face important conference games this week that will be crucial for getting into the WWPA postseason tournament.

    “We’ve got some huge games coming up,” Donohoe said. “We’ve got two conference opponents in Claremont and Pomona this week, so we just really need to clean up our offensive play, just make sure we’re making the right passes, really communicating well and not giving the other teams opportunities to capitalize on our mistakes.”

    The Tritons return to the pool for a WWPA conference game with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps this Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. in Canyonview Pool.

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