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UCLA returns to winning ways

2014 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo

UCLA junior Danny McClintick scored four goals on six shots in the Bruins’ national championship win over Southern California. DERRICK TUSKAN / NCAA PHOTOS

The University of California, Los Angeles, is a regular contender for the NCAA National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship, making nine appearances in the semifinals over the past 20 years and winning five national titles during that period. Going into this year’s championship, UCLA had won nine times overall, including in 1969, the inaugural year. But, the Bruins hadn’t won a title since 2004.

In the final game, UCLA faced a formidable opponent: six-time defending champion Southern California, led by All-American senior Kostas Genidounias.

Genidounias has never known a college water polo season that did not end with a national championship, and one of those, in 2012, came when he scored a game-winner against UCLA. This year, his family traveled from Greece to see the final contest of his college career.

Top-seeded UCLA, on the other hand, had downed Southern California in two of their three regular-season meetings of the season. The stage was set for a dramatic end to the season, but in the end, UCLA led most of the match, with Gordon Marshall scoring the deciding goal with 34 seconds remaining, making the score 9-8.

Genidounias got his chance to tie the game, but his shot was field-blocked. “It takes a long time to get to this point,” UCLA coach Adam Wright told the Daily Bruin. “There’s been so many guys that have just come so close that aren’t here anymore, but they are still a part of this.”

The Results

2014 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo

CHAMPIONSHIP
UCLA 9, Southern California, 8

THIRD-PLACE GAME
Stanford 20, UC San Diego 11

SEMIFINALS
UCLA 15, UC San Diego 6
Southern California 12, Stanford 11
(3 ot, sudden death)

ELITE 89 HONOREE
BJ Churnside, Stanford

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