LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The No. 11-ranked Princeton University men’s water polo team’s 2021 campaign came to an end in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) First Round/Quarterfinals with a 12-6 loss to host/No. 1 the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) at the Spieker Aquatics Center.
With the loss, Princeton ends the year with a 26-8 record. The Tigers’ 26 victories and 430 goals were program records while earning the program’s sixth conference title.
The Bruins started off the contest with three goals as Chase Travisano converted a man-up chance with 5:45 left in the first quarter. Gianpiero Di Martire (3:32) and Giorgio Alessandria (2:16) followed with natural tallies to push UCLA out to a 3-0 margin. Princeton got on the board following seven minutes of scoreless play as Pierce Maloney cashed in a five-meter penalty shot chance at 1:04, but the Bruins answered with 40 seconds left in the opening frame via a volley by Tommy Gruwell to stake UCLA to a 4-1 lead after eight minutes of action.
The teams traded goals for the first four minutes of the second quarter. Ryan Neapole pulled Princeton within a pair at 4-2 by putting away a power-play bid at 6:17, but Gruwell added his second (5:59) prior to Roko Pozaric‘s netting a tally at to move Princeton back to within a pair at 5-3 with 5:39 left in the first half.
UCLA went on a 3-0 tear as Jake Cavano (5:18), Chase Dodd (3:36) and Makato Kenney (2:41) went back-to-back-to-back to widen the lead to 8-3. Following a man-up score by George Caras with 40 seconds left in the second quarter to trim the Bruins’ lead to 8-4, Gruwell completed a hat-trick with 12 ticks remaining on the clock by slicing in a six-on-five shot to provide UCLA a 9-4 lead by halftime.
The margin expanded to 10-4 55 seconds into the third quarter as Jack Larsen (7:05) delivered for the Bruins. Pozaric trimmed the margin back to five at 10-5 with 1:54 left in the quarter by putting away a man-up opportunity.
UCLA outscored Princeton 2-1 over the final eight minutes of competition as Nicolas Saveljic fired in a five-meter penalty shot for the Bruins (6:31) and Di Martire (32 seconds) flushed an even-strength marker to sandwich a score by the Tigers’ Mitchell Cooper (1:46).
Pozaric led Princeton with two goals, while Maloney, Neapole and Caras each netted solo markers. In cage, Antonio Knez made five saves.
For UCLA, the Bruins had nine different players score in the game, paced by Gruwell’s three tallies. Di Martire chipped in a pair with Travisano, Cavano, Allesandria, Saveljic, Dodd, Kenney and Larsen each accounting for solo strikes.
Bernardo Maurizi got the start in the cage and played the first three quarters, registering five saves while allowing five goals. Garret Griggs came on in the fourth quarter and tallied three saves while surrendering one goal.
Information courtesy University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and Princeton University Athletics Communications