Courtesy: UCLA Athletics
LOS ANGELES — No. 2 UCLA (13-0) won the 2023 Overnght MPSF Invitational crown with a 12-10 upset win over No. 1 California (12-1) at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center, snapping the Golden Bears’ 15-game winning streak in the process. The win today also snapped the Bruins’ seven-game losing streak to Cal, dating back to the 2020 season (which was contested in the spring of 2021). UCLA improved to 91-76-1 all-time in the series history against the Golden Bears.
The Bruins had six players score in the contest, led by four more goals from senior Rafael Real Vergara. Vergara led the Bruins in the game with seven points (also had three assists) and ended the tournament with 16 goals in three games (he didn’t play in the Bruins’ win over Occidental). Senior Jack Larsen finished with six total points (three goals and three assists). Senior Hayden Nightingale was the Bruins’ only other multiple goal scorer with two goals.
Senior Garret Griggs got the start in the cage and went the distance, tallying eight saves while surrendering 10 goals.
UCLA won the first period, 3-2, jumping out to a 2-0 advantage. Nightingale (6:22) and Jack Larsen (5:18) scored power play goals to open the scoring. After Cal scored a goal Ben Larsen scored a power play goal (2:42) off a pass from his brother, Jack, to make it 3-1 UCLA. Cal would score a power play goal (1:52) to end the scoring in the first.
The Bruins would also win the second quarter, 4-3, to take a 7-5 lead into the break. California tied the game at 3-3 with 6:41 to go in the second. But UCLA would go on a 4-0 scoring run to take command of the game. Jack Larsen scored his second (6:16) and freshman Marcell Szécsi scored his first off a feed from sophomore Noah Rowe (5:22) to make it 5-3. Real Vergara then got his first on a power play and a feed from Jack Larsen (3:01) followed by his second on a penalty shot that was drawn by Jack Larsen (1:46). California scored on a counter (0:27) and the Golden Bears’ keeper would score on a empty net when the Bruins pulled their goalie to run a 7-on-6 but missed wide with 0:01 remaining, giving enough time for Adrian Weinberg to take a shot, ending the scoring in the second period.
The Bruins wouldn’t lose a single quarter to the two-time defending NCAA Champions all game, earning a 4-4 draw in the third quarter and a 1-1 draw in the fourth to provide the 12-10 final. California would tie the game at 9-9 in the third with a counter goal by Nikolaos Papanikolaou, his only goal of the game, with 1:17 to go. But the Bruins answered with back-to-back goals from Rowe (0:54) and Real Vergara (0:01) to push the lead back to two goals at 11-9 heading into the final period..
UCLA’s stout defense held the Golden Bears in check in the fourth after Jack Larsen opened the scoring in the period with a strike from the front court (2:40) to complete his hat trick, putting the Bruins up 12-9. Marton Szatmary scored a power play goal for Cal (1:20), its lone goal of the fourth, to provide the 12-10 final. UCLA’s defense held California to 2-for-13 on power plays (.154) and 10-for-33 shooting (.303).
UP NEXT: The Bruins will return home for a rematch with No. 4 Pepperdine on Friday, Sept. 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center. UCLA will also host Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 6:00 p.m. PT. Admission is free.
No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 1 California (Overnght MPSF Invitational – Finals – Game 13)
|No. 2 UCLA||3||4||4||1||12|
|No. 1 California||2||3||4||1||10|
6×5 – UCLA – 6/16 – CAL – 2/13
Penalties – UCLA – 2/3 – CAL – 1/2
CAL Goals: Max Casabella 4, Adrian Weinberg 1, Nikolaos Papanikolaou 1 Albert Ponferrada 1, Marton Szatmary 1, Nik Mirkovic 1, Jake Stone 1
CAL Saves: Adrian Weinberg 8
Courtesy: Cal Athletics
LOS ANGELES – The No. 1 California men’s water polo team was defeated by No. 2 UCLA 12-10 in the MPSF Invitational first-place game on Sunday, falling for the first time in over 10 months.
Entering the day on a 15-game win streak, the Golden Bears (12-1) fought back to erase a four-goal deficit in the third quarter, tying it 9-9 on a gorgeous backhand goal by senior Nikolaos Papanikolaou. That was the two-time Cutino Award winner’s 235th career goal, moving him into a tie with Ivan Rackov for No. 3 all time at Cal.
The Bruins (13-0) responded with goals on their final two possessions of the third. The Bears got a late power play goal from Marci Szatmary, but weren’t able to close the gap in the final frame.
Max Casabella led Cal with four goals, getting hot in the third period by scoring three times in the span of 86 seconds. Goalkeeper Adrian Weinberg finished with eight saves, two steals and an assist.
After Cal’s defense got a stop on a Bruins 7-on-6 opportunity, Weinberg ended the opening half with a remarkable buzzer-beater to send the Bears into halftime trailing 7-5. The length-of-the-pool shot was the first of Weinberg’s Cal career.
The Bears will be off next weekend before returning to action for their home opener on Oct. 7 at Spieker Aquatics Complex in a rematch with UCLA.
No. 2 UCLA 12, No. 1 California 10
Cal 2 3 4 1 – 10
UCLA 3 4 4 1 – 12
Cal Goals: Max Casabella 4, Adrian Weinberg, Nkolaos Papanikolaou, Albert Ponferrada, Marci Szatmary, Nik Mirkovic, Jake Stone
UCLA Goals: Rafael Real Vergara 4, Jack Larsen 3, Hayden Nightingale 2, Marcell Szécsi, Ben Larsen, Noah Rowe
Cal Saves: Adrian Weinberg 8
UCLA Saves: Garret Griggs 8
— Cal Water Polo (@CalWaterPolo) September 24, 2023
Hell of a run for the Bears, who had won 15 straight coming into the day
— Cal Water Polo (@CalWaterPolo) September 24, 2023