Oct. 3, 2010

Courtesy of UCLA Athletics

LOS ANGELES - The No. 2 UCLA men's water polo team dropped a 9-8 decision to No. 1 USC in the championship match of the SoCal Tournament on Sunday evening at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center. Earlier in the day, the Bruins advanced to the championship match with an 8-6 win over UC Irvine.

Freshman Cristiano Mirarchi led the Bruins (8-2) with three goals in the championship match, and freshman goalkeeper James Hartshorne made 10 saves in his third career collegiate game.

USC's Nikola Vavic scored the game-winning goal on a 6-on-5 opportunity with 35 seconds to play, breaking an 8-8 tie in the fourth quarter. UCLA was unable to score on its final possession in the game's final 30 seconds, allowing USC to seal its ninth consecutive SoCal Tournament crown.

UCLA trailed by as many as three goals throughout the contest, but shored its deficit midway through the fourth quarter. Down 7-4 after USC's Matthew Burton scored at 5:48 in the final quarter, the Bruins received goals from sophomore Josh Samuels (5:24) and Mirarchi on penalty goal with 4:31 remaining.

USC increased its margin to 8-6 at 3:07, converting on a 6-on-5 goal from Tobias Pruess. UCLA answered in the final three minutes with a goal from junior Cullen Hennessy (2:58) and the game-tying score from Samuels with 50 seconds to play.

USC junior goalkeeper Joel Dennerley registered 15 saves in the cage, blocking two of three penalty shot attempts.

UCLA returns to action next weekend, opening its MPSF schedule with a pair of road games at California on Saturday, Oct. 9 and at Pacific on Sunday, Oct. 10. Game time at California next Saturday is 10 a.m.