UCLA Granted Overtime Win At Buzzer To Beat USC
Nov. 21, 2013
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 4 USC men's water polo team was robbed of a chance at taking down rival UCLA in sudden-death when a last-second Bruin shot was determined by the officials to have fully crossed the line before USC goalie James Clark scooped it away. That game-deciding call put the win in the Bruins' books for tonight's rousing MPSF finale in Westwood. The 10-9 overtime decision in UCLA's favor wraps up the regular season for both teams. USC is now 23-4 overall and finishes up at 5-3 in MPSF play to take the No. 4 seed into the coming MPSF Tournament.
The Trojans had surged to lead UCLA by three goals during the third period of play, but the host Bruins scored three in a row to pull even during the fourth. Mace Rapsey snapped eight minutes of USC scoring silence with a blast at the post to take the Trojans ahead 8-7 with 2:49 to go, only to have UCLA convert its first 6-on-5 of the night to level things at 8-8. A defensive first overtime frame gave way to a tense second OT. The Bruins took their first lead since the first period of play with a strike out of two meters by Lucas Reynolds. But USC senior Connor Virjee had the answer just 17 seconds later with a catapulting score that made it 9-9 with 2:17 left in overtime. The officials were letting the teams play things out, with no ejections called for a long stretch. That is, until UCLA was awarded a power play with just seconds remaining. Ryder Roberts got off a prayer of a shot just as time expired, and his shot floated at the goal line, where Clark scooped it away. One official appeared to wave off the goal, but the opposite official determined that the entire ball had indeed crossed the plane, thus gifting the goal and the victory to UCLA before the game could extend into sudden death.
USC played a strong and balanced game, serving up an inside-outside attack that kept the Bruins guessing down the stretch. Jeremy Davie struck twice out of two meters, with Jon Walters adding one of his own. Mace Rapsey would lead all scorers on the night with a hat trick, joined by Nikola Vavic with a pair of scores and Connor Virjee with that last blast for the Trojan cause. In the goal, James Clark was outstanding, hauling in 15 saves on the night, including three big saves in OT.
UCLA struck first, but the Trojans rifled in the next two on strikes from Vavic and Rapsey. Even at 2-2 entering the second frame, USC took control, silencing the Bruins while Davie and Walters flexed their two-meter muscle to take USC ahead 4-2 at the half. USC would build three-goal advantages during the third, up 6-3 on Rapsey's second of the night and then 7-4 on Vavic's second -- that one set up by a nice pop-out from Davie at set.
And yet, it would all come down to that one last shot awarded to the Bruins. Goal-line technology isn't an option in water polo, leaving tonight's epic battle -- a rematch of the past two NCAA title matches won by the Trojans -- as a UCLA victory to wrap the regular season.
USC now heads into the MPSF Tournament, held next week in Stockton, Calif., from Nov. 29-Dec. 31. The No. 4 seeded Trojans will open up against No. 5 seed California at 3 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 29).
#2 UCLA 10, #4 USC 9 (OT)
SAVES: James Clark (USC) 15, Danner (UCLA) 12.