No. 4 USC Men's Water Polo Beats No. 2 Bruins 11-7 For Third At MPSF Tourney
WESTWOOD, CALIF. — The USC men's water polo team swamped rival UCLA in today's MPSF Tournament third-place game, tallying the first five goals of the game en route to a formidable 11-7 finish over the host Bruins. Luke Wyatt drummed up a career-high three goals to help pace the Trojan offense, while goalie Nic Porter anchored a stubborn defense and hauled in 14 saves for the Trojan cause. The win at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center was the Trojans' second straight over the Bruins and improved USC to 6-8 overall.
A big save from Nic Porter in the first minute helped set the tone early. Soon after, Wyatt Barker cracked the UCLA defense with a blast off a setup from Jacob Mercep, and the ball was officially rolling for the Trojan offense. Jake Ehrhardt followed with a 6-on-5 sizzler to make it 2-0. Another Porter save squashed a UCLA 6-on-5, and Marcus Longton delivered at the other end for a lift to 3-0. In the final minute of the first, Tom McGuire found fellow freshman Tony Nardelli at the post for a strike that had USC up 4-0. Both defenses stepped up in the second until the Trojans broke through again. Mercep found Luke Wyatt for his first of three, and USC was enjoying a 5-0 advantage at 1:17 in the second. After almost 16 minutes of silence, UCLA got a goal from the post, and it was 5-1 Trojans at halftime.
The teams stayed largely in stride the rest of the way. Wyatt had an answer for each of UCLA's first two goals as the senior maneuvered his way to his first career hat trick. Up 7-3 thanks to Wyatt's efforts, USC jumped to an 8-3 advantage when Mercep ripped in his first goal. UCLA answered back, only to see Mercep find McGuire for a laser and a 9-4 lead. The Bruins would get a 6-on-5 score to go in the final minute of the third to make it a 9-5 scoreline entering the fourth. There, UCLA carved into USC's lead with back-to-back goals to make it a two-goal margin. Undeterred, USC capitalized on a power play with another screamer from Mercep to go up 10-7 with 5:22 remaining. While the USC defense snuffed the rest of UCLA's offensive opportunities, Mercep was again the setup man for a 6-on-5 strike from Chris Sturtevant, which topped off the scoring in the game in making it 11-7 with 1:16 to go. That was the final word, leaving No. 4-seeded USC victorious with a commanding win over No. 2 seed UCLA.
After the close of the tourney, USC had two players named to the MPSF All-Tournament Team in Jake Ehrhardt and Jacob Mercep. The pair combined for 13 goals at the event.
The Trojans now await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket, which is due to be released this evening (March 7) at NCAA.com.
 USC 11,  UCLA 7
March 7, 2021 | Spieker Aquatics Center (Westwood, Calif.)
USC 4 - 1 - 4 - 2 = 11
UCLA 0 - 1 - 4 - 2 = 7
USC — Luke Wyatt 3, Jacob Mercep 2, Wyatt Barker, Jake Ehrhardt, Marcus Longton, Tony Nardelli, Tom McGuire, Chris Sturtevant.
UCLA — Evan Rosenfeld 2, Mo Kenney, Giorgio Allessandria, Chasen Travisano, Tommy Gruwell, Nicolas Saveljic.
SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 14, Chase Honaker (UCLA) 6, Garret Griggs 2.