BERKELEY, Calif. – No. 3 UCLA came storming back from a slow 0-4 start and a 1-5 deficit at halftime to defeat No. 7 California 10-9 in sudden death overtime at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
The Bruins were led by senior Josh Samuels with four goals. Samuels also scored four goals in the Bruins’ 11-10 overtime win over California earlier this season. This game was the third in a row ending in one-goal win against California in overtime, dating back to last year.
The California Golden Bears scored the first four goals of the match to take a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period. Thomas Agramonte scored at 6:07 and then Aleksa Saponjic scored back-to-back goals at 5:20 and a power play goal at 4:17. Marin Balarin made it 4-0 Golden Bears on a 6-on-5 score with 45 seconds remaining to end the scoring in the first period.
UCLA got on the board in the final minute of the second period on a goal by sophomore Paul Reynolds, but California’s Giacomo Cupido answered with 42 seconds left to give the Golden Bears a 5-1 lead at halftime.
The Bruins dominated the third period, scoring the first three goals of the second half. Junior Lucas Reynolds struck first from two-meters to make it 5-2 at the 7:22 mark. Then Samuels scored from distance to make it 5-3 with 6:37 to go in the third. Junior Aimone Barabino scored on a rebound off the post from an errant Griffin White shot to make it 5-4 with 4:22 left. California extended its lead to 6-4 at 2:59 when Collin Smith converted a penalty shot. Then Samuels scored his second from long distance with 27 seconds left to close it to 6-5 at the end of the third period.
Balarin opened the fourth quarter scoring, beating UCLA’s senior goalkeeper Matt Rapacz on a low skip shot to push the lead to 7-5 with 7:06 left in the fourth period. But senior Chris Wendt trimmed the lead to 7-6 on a UCLA power play goal with 5:02 remaining. Lucas Reynolds then scored the equalizer from two-meters for the Bruins with 3:43 to go in the fourth quarter. Both goalies made great saves down the stretch to send the game into overtime.
Samuels scored a hat trick, this one on a penalty shot, to give UCLA its first lead of the match at 8-7 with 1:38 remaining in the first overtime period. Paul Reynolds scored on a deep floater that beat Cal goalkeeper Jon Sibley to make it 9-7 with 50 seconds left in the first overtime period. But Hunter Gettelfinger trimmed it to 9-8 with five seconds left in the first overtime period.
California got a power play goal from Balarin, his third of the day, to tie it at 9-9 with 1:03 left in the second overtime period. After a defensive stop by Cal, the Bruins got a steal and called timeout with 20 seconds left. But Paul Reynolds’ early shot with 10 seconds left hit the post, giving the Golden Bears an opportunity for the win. After a great stop in the cage by Rapacz to end the second overtime period, the Bruins won their first sprint of the day in the sudden death overtime period. Sibley made a nice stop in goal for Cal on a lob shot from Paul Reynolds on the first possession, but the ball was deflected out of bounds. Then the Bruins drew a penalty shot on the reset and Samuels made them pay with his game-winning fourth goal on the day with 2:09 left in the sudden death period.
Rapacz played the entire game in goal for UCLA, registering 10 saves. Sibley recorded eight stops for California.
With the win, the Bruins improved to 16-2 overall and 1-0 in MPSF action. The Golden Bears dropped to 9-6 overall and 0-1 in league play.