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Men's Water Polo - Sun, Nov. 20, 2016


STOCKTON, Calif. — The first six games of the inaugural Golden Coast Conference Men's Championships had the winner score at 11 goals as offense was the theme. However, ninth-ranked and fourth-seeded Pepperdine used defense to push them to a 6-5 win over fifth-ranked and second-seeded Pacific in the GCC title game on Sunday night.

Pepperdine goalie Zack Rhodes (JR/Palm Desert, CA) set the tone early with nine of his tournament-high 18 saves in a shutout first quarter that saw the Waves go up 2-0. They held on to that lead, holding the Tigers to just 17.8 percent shooting as they attempted 28 on the game. Rhodes finished with 47 saves in three games to earn Tournament MVP.


The Tigers defense was up to the task as well, holding the Waves to 21 percent shooting as goalie Alen Osmanovic (FR/Belgrade, Servia) had 12 saves, including a late penalty shot save that gave the Tigers a shot in the closing seconds to send it to overtime.

However, it was the Waves who fought off seven of Pacific's 10 6-on-5 attacks to win the first-ever GCC title.

Mark Urban (JR/Budapest, Hungary) had yet another big game for the Waves (15-12) with two goals and five steals. Rhodes added four steals and GCC Co-Player of the Year Marko Asic (SO/Laguna Niguel, CA) had three goals and an assist.

Pacific (19-7) was led by Kale Ai (JR/Honolulu, HI) with two goals. 

It was Urban and Asic that gave the Waves the 2-0 lead after the first quarter. 

The teams traded goals throughout the second quarter as the Waves led 4-3 at the break.

Asic put the Waves on the board first in the second half, scoring with 5:34 to play to make it 5-3. Engin Ege Colak (FR/Istanbul, Turkey) cut the lead down to one again, making it 5-4 with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.

It was Urban that would score what would be the game winner, making it 6-4 with 4:46 to play in regulation. 

Pacific still had life left as Ai scored on a 6-on-5 attack with 3:16 to play to make it 6-5. The Tigers had a chance on a 6-on-5 with 2:11 to play but Pepperdine's defense was up to the task. 

The Waves looked to a huge insurance goal as they drew a five-meter penalty shot. However, Osmanovic came up big with the save. Pepperdine got the rebound and had two more shots on cage that Osmanovic fought off.

The Tigers had another shot, drawing an exclusion on Asic and setting up a 6-on-5 attack to tie the game with 33 seconds left. After a timeout, the Tigers ran a set but couldn't get a shot on goal as the Waves claimed the GCC title.

GCC All-Tournament Team

Zack Rhodes, Pepperdine (MVP)

Mark Urban, Pepperdine

Cristian Bridley (SR/Santa Barbara, CA), Pepperdine

Aleksandar Petrovic (SR/Belgrade, Serbia), Pacific

Ikko Saito (SR/Cerritos, CA), Pacific

Nolan McConnell (SR/Laguna Beach, CA), LBSU

Reed Cotterill (SR/Sydney, Australia), UC Santa Barbara