A strong defense and extraordinary two-meter play by Sean Kern were the key ingredients Sunday in UCLA's 6-5 victory over Stanford in the NCAA men's water polo final at UC San Diego.
In front of an announced crowd of 2,422, the top-seeded Bruins won their sixth NCAA title. It's the first time a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion has won the title since the NCAA tournament changed its format five years ago. The previous four titles were won by the MPSF runner-up.
Kern, named the tournament's most valuable player, scored four goals, including the winner with 4:32 to play.
"We were just sticking to the same game plan we've been using the last third of the season," he said.
Said Stanford Coach Ben Quittner: "I think [Kern] showed why he's the best two-meter player in the nation. I think we did a good job on defense. We didn't get some calls. But he's tough to stop."
Stanford (22-6) never established a two-meter game against the UCLA defense, taking most of its shots from outside the four-meter area.