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No. 2 USC Men’s Water Polo Wins Wild One At Uytengsu, Beating No. 1 UCLA 8-7 On Senior Day

Nov 6, 2021

LOS ANGELES — The No. 2 USC men's water polo team successfully defended home waters in an epic MPSF matchup between the Trojans and top-ranked rival UCLA in front of a packed house of fans at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. In a battle that featured six ties, USC generated back-to-back goals in the fourth frame while providing staunch defense at the other end to take a lead it would not relinquish in a final 8-7 win over the Bruins. The MPSF win puts USC at 16-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play to wrap the regular season, while UCLA goes to 16-2, 1-1.

In a pregame ceremony, USC honored its eight graduating Trojans in a Senior Day celebration. Several of those seniors would make statements in the water soon after. Goalie Nic Porter opened the game with one of his eventual 12 saves, and Alexander Lansill delivered the first goal of the day for USC. Jacob Mercep would deliver two assists and nab four steals, and Wyatt Barker drew five exclusions in a well-balanced effort by the Trojans' veterans today.

In the first half, USC would see UCLA answer each of its goals during a largely defensive first 16 minutes of action. It was locked up 1-1 at the end of the first period, and in the second a ripper from Jake Ehrhardt was followed later by another UCLA equalizer that had it at 2-2 by halftime.

The game opened up more in the third, with Ashworth Molthen moving USC ahead with a slick skipper off a feed from Ehrhardt. UCLA would respond with back-to-back goals next, however, as the Bruins took their first lead, up 4-3 midway through the third. A beautiful series on a USC 6-on-5 saw Mercep hit Carson Kranz for a slammer that knotted it at 4-4 just 30 seconds later. UCLA would convert on a power play two minutes later to tug back into the lead, only to see USC make its move. Barker drew a 5-meter penalty shot that Hannes Daube sizzled through to level it at 5-5. As time drained on the frame, Daube found Ehrhardt for an enormous blast just two second before the buzzer, and USC was back on top, up 6-5 entering the fourth.

There, UCLA got a 5-meter penalty shot to go, bringing the teams even for the sixth time. Just 20 seconds later, though, Mercep sailed a cross for a hungry Kranz, who rose up and hammed home his shot at the post to make it 7-6 Trojans. Neither team would break through for the next six minutes in a tense stalemate until Chris Sturtevant earned a 6-on-5 for the Trojans. Cue Molthen, who took a feed from Mercep to go one-on-one with the UCLA goalie, faking and faking and firing to get USC its largest lead of the game, up 8-6 with just six seconds to go. UCLA would score before the close, but USC's win was well intact as the Trojans emerged victorious over their rivals 8-7.

- With 12 saves, SR goalie Nic Porter recorded his 33 career game with double-digit saves and ninth this season.
- Porter has now tallied 10 or more saves in hist last five appearances
- With two goals today, JR Ashworth Molthen has now scored in nine straight games.
- Before the game, USC honored its eight departing Trojans — Wyatt Barker, Matt Harrison, Marko Karaman, James Kolenda, Alexander Lansill, Jacob Mercep, Nic Porter and Bennett Winther — in a Senior Day ceremony.

USC has a break from official competition next week, instead setting up for Alumni Day on Saturday (Nov. 13) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The USC men will face its alumni in an 11 a.m. test, followed by a 12:30 p.m. game between the USC women and their alumni.

#2 USC 8, #1 UCLA 7
Nov. 6, 2021 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center
USC   1 - 1 - 4 - 2 = 8
UCLA 1 - 1 - 3 - 2 = 7

USC — Jake Ehrhardt 2, Carson Kranz 2, Ashworth Molthen 2, Alexander Lansill, Hannes Daube.
UCLA — Makoto Kenney 3, Jake Cavano, Chase Dodd, Chasen Travisano, Nicolas Saveljic.

SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 12, Bernardo Maurizi (UCLA) 4.