LA JOLLA, Calif. – Brown University men's water polo remained within 7-6 at halftime, but UC San Diego outscored Brown 5-1 in the second half to take a 12-7 win in a play-in game of the National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship at Canyonview Pool on Saturday evening.
"I think our inexperience showed a little bit, and their experience showed," Brown head coach Felix Mercado said. "They paced themselves. They came out in the second half and took care of business. We just couldn't match their intensity – we did it for a half."
The season ends for the fifth-seeded and ninth-ranked Bears (27-7) who won their first CWPA title since 1985 and advanced to their first NCAA tournament since 1990 this season.
The host fourth-seeded and sixth-ranked Tritons (16-9) advance to the NCAA semifinals on Dec. 6 where they will play top-seeded UCLA. UC San Diego will host both the semifinals and finals of the championship.
"The first half we did a great job of matching their intensity offensively, but giving up seven goals in the first half wasn't exactly what we wanted to do because we knew they could score the ball," Mercado said. "It comes down to our defense, and our defense just wasn't clicking in the second half."
Junior Matty Gallas (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Yahel Murvitz-Lahav (Tel Aviv, Israel) each scored two goals for the Bears. Senior Henry Fox (Mercer Island, Wash.), classmate Nick Deaver (Orinda, Calif.), and sophomore Warren Smith (Dallas, Texas) added single tallies.
Fox posted three steals and two assists, Murvitz-Lahav compiled four steals and two assists, and junior Will Klein (Pasadena, Calif.) drew a team-high five exclusions.
UC San Diego's Josh Stiling scored a game-high six goals.
After the Tritons scored the game's first two goals, Smith put the Bears on the board with a shot from the right side with 2:47 left in the opening stanza. UCSD notched a goal 24 seconds later to go ahead 3-1.
The hosts took a 4-1 edge with 41 seconds left in the first, but Brown responded with a pair of goals inside of the last 30 seconds. Fox netted the Bears' first goal of the spurt, firing a penalty shot top shelf.
Just 12 seconds later, Murvitz-Lahav pulled Brown within 4-3 on a breakaway shot. After Murvitz-Lahav made a steal, he executed a give-and-go with Fox to gain space for the goal.
UCSD notched the second quarter's opening goal, but the Bears countered with back-to-back goals to tie the game at 5-5. Gallas posted the first of the two goals on a 5-meter shot off an assist from Murvitz-Lahav. Deaver then tied it at 5-5 at the 4:45 mark of the period with a shot to the top corner.
The Tritons took a 7-5 lead with 2:13 left in the first half, but Gallas netted a goal off a rebound with 33 seconds to go in the half to pull Brown within 7-6 at the second intermission.
UC San Diego scored all four of the third period's goals to take an 11-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Stiling tallied three of the team's goals during the frame.
The 2014 WWPA champions, UCSD charted the fourth period's first goal, and Murvitz-Lahav netted the game's final tally with 10 seconds left.
Sophomore goalie Luke Weiser (Los Alamitos, Calif.) made seven saves in the first three quarters, and senior Andrew Brown (Western Springs, Ill.) stopped one shot in the fourth quarter for the Bears. Cameron Ravanbach earned the win in goal for the Tritons with 11 saves.
"Losing three great seniors is tough, but the good thing is we have a lot of guys coming back, and we have a really good recruiting class coming in," Mercado said. "We should be able to reload, and we want to get back here."
UC San Diego 12, Brown 7
UC San Diego......... 4…3…4…1…12
Brown Goals: Gallas (2), Murvitz-Lahav (2), Deaver, Fox, Smith.