LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The No. 1 UCLA men's water polo team (29-3) brought home its ninth NCAA title with a 9-8 win against six-time defending champion USC on Sunday afternoon at UCSD's Canyonview Aquatic Center.
Sophomore Gordon Marshall netted the game-winner from two meters with 34 seconds remaining to put UCLA up by a goal. The Bruins got the stop on the next possession and then ran out the clock to capture the title.
The 29 wins tied UCLA's single-season record (29-5 in 1988) as the Bruins earned their first NCAA championship since 2004. The win against the Trojans improved UCLA's record this season against USC to 4-1, which equalled its record against the Adam Krikorian-coached squad in 2002.
Top-seeded UCLA struck first when sophomore Chancellor Ramirez scored from the front court (4:25). Senior Daniel Lenhart then set up redshirt freshman Matt Farmer for a cross-cage score to put the Bruins up 2-0 (1:13) and end the scoring in the opening stanza.
James Walters scored first for the Trojans in the second quarter to cut the lead to 2-1 (5:02). But McClintick pushed the lead to 3-1 on the next possession (4:43). USC answered with a power-play goal by Mihajlo Milicevic to trim the lead to 3-2 (3:37), but senior David Culpan fired a shot bar-in that pushed it back to 4-2 (3:17). That score would hold up until halftime.
Matteo Morelli opened the scoring in the third with a power play goal to cut the lead to 4-3 (6:59). McClintick then scored his second on a 6-on-5 opportunity (4:29) to push the lead to 5-3. McClintick scored his second consecutive goal to complete a hat trick and double up the Trojans at 6-3 (1:05). Nick Bell answered with an exclusion goal (0:06) to trim the lead to 6-4, but sophomore Jack Fellner had the last word with a goal from half-tank at the buzzer to end the scoring in the third with the Bruins leading 7-4.
Kostas Genidounias opened the scoring in the fourth with a nice lob shot (7:45) to make it 7-5. Marc Vonderweidt converted a Trojan power play to cut the lead to 7-6 (4:29). Then Genidounias tied the game with a goal at full strength to make it 7-7 (3:32). McClintick gave the Bruins an 8-7 lead with 3:13 to go, but USC's Vonderweidt tied it at 8-8 on the next possession (2:50).
The title marks the 112th in UCLA athletics annals.