BERKELEY – In a battle between two legendary college water polo programs in front of a packed Spieker Aquatics Complex, the No. 5 Cal water polo team fell to No. 2-ranked USC, 11-9, Saturday (Nov. 9) in an MPSF contest in Berkeley. The Golden Bears, led by two goals apiece from senior Hunter Gettelfinger and sophomore Colin Mulcahy, had tied the contest, 8-8, on a goal by Gettlefinger with 41 seconds left in the third period. Unfortunately for Kirk Everist’s squad, they were outscored, 3-1, in the final period to fall to the five-time defending national champion Trojans.
Cal dropped to 14-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play, while USC improved to 21-2 and 3-1 in the MPSF. The Bears were the last team to defeat the Trojans in the national championship match, unending USC in both the 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6) NCAA final.
On Saturday, the Bears jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period on goals by Gettelfinger, Mulcahy, freshman Farrel South and sophomore Thomas Agramonte. Agramonte scored his goal with 4:50 left in the first period, but the Trojans scored twice in the final three minutes to get within, 4-3.
USC’s Russell Renteria tied the match, 4-4, with a score at 6:52 in the second period. From that point, it was a back-and-forth affair with junior Matt Russell scoring at 5:25 in the period to give Cal a 5-4 advantage, and Cal senior Giacomo Cupido tying the game, 6-6, with a goal at 1:56 at the half.
Sophomore Max Schell scored on an assist from Gettelfinger to give the Bears a 7-6 lead early in the third period, but again the Trojans came back with Kostas Genidournias scoring the fourth of his five goals to put his team up 8-7 before Gettelfinger tied the match, 8-8, at the end of the third period.
Mace Rapsey and Genidournias scored in the first two goals of the fourth period the give USC a two-goal advantage, 10-8. Mulcahy scored with 2:58 left in the match to get Cal within, 10-9, but the Trojans Rex Butler iced the victory with a goal at 1:34 in the period for the final 11-9 margin.
Both goalies had several saves on the day. Bear junior Jon Sibley finished with 14 saves, while Trojan senior James Clark finished with 10 saves.
“It was a typical USC-Cal battle,” said Everist. “They (Trojans) did a good job of weathering our early energy. Our extra man offense was excellent today, and we will continue to improve. This team (Cal) will be ready for the MPSF tournament (Nov. 29-Dec. 1).”
The Bears will next host Santa Clara in a non-league contest on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Cal will then host UC Irvine in an MPSF match on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at Spieker. The Nov. 17 match will also be Senior Day, honoring the Bears’ seven seniors on the 2013 squad.
USC 3 3 2 3 – 11
California 4 2 2 1 – 9
USC: Kostas Genidounias 5, Russell Renteria 2, Nikola Vavic, Rex Butler, Nick Bell, Mace Rapsey.
Cal: Colin Mulcahy 2, Hunter Gettelfinger 2, Farrel South, Thomas Agramonte, Max Schell, Matt Russell, Giacomo Cupido.
Saves: James Clark (USC) 10; Jon Sibley (Cal) 14.