Nov. 11, 2011
BERKELEY - Under a driving rain storm, sophomore Collin Smith scored from eight meters out with 3:13 left in the match to break an 8-8 tie and give the No. 3-ranked Cal men's water polo team an important 9-8 MPSF win Friday (Nov. 11) versus No. 7 Pacific at Spieker Aquatics Complex. It was the second game in a row Smith has secured the match-winning goal for the Golden Bears as Cal improves to 18-3 overall and 6-1 in league play.
On Nov. 5 at UC Santa Barbara, Smith had scored with 3:02 left in the contest to give the Bears an, 8-7, MPSF road win. He now has 18 goals in 17 matches this season.
After Smith scored his late goal in the fourth period, Cal's defense tightened, highlighted by two steals from freshman Aleksa Saponjic, including a final steal with 11 seconds left in the match to seal the win on Senior Night. The Bears had honored 11 seniors - including stalwarts Ivan Rackov, Luka Saponjic, Cory Nasoff, Zach Greenwood and Charlie Steffens - prior to the start of the match.
"Pacific is a tough team, we knew that coming in and they didn't disappoint," said Cal coach Kirk Everist. "It was a game of runs until the end. Collin (Smith) stepped up with a great shot and our defense was able to get some big stops."
Indeed Friday night's match included runs for both teams. The Tigers had jumped out to a 4-1 lead halfway through the second period on three straight goals from Lance Morrison, Balazs Erdelyi and Tom Konig. However, Cal came storming back with five-straight goals from five different players - Aleksa Saponjic, Marin Balarin, Nasoff, Rackov and Giacomo Cupido.
Again Pacific came back, going on a 3-0 run in the third period to take a 7-6 lead. Luka Saponjic was finally able to even the score with an outside shot with 35 seconds left in the third period.
In the fourth period, Rackoff was able to give Cal back the advantage after scoring on a counterattack for an 8-7 lead, only to see Erdelyi tie the game on a 6-on-5 goal with 4:27 left in the match. From there, both teams were not able to take advantage of scoring opportunities in finally Smith nailed his clutch outside shot.
After traveling to UC Davis, Saturday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m., the Bears will face their Bay Area rival, Stanford, Nov. 19 at Stanford (time TBA), before entering the MPSF Tournament, Nov. 25-27, at UCLA. The Bears are looking for a high seed entering the conference championship. The winner of the MPSF tournament is the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship, hosted Dec. 3-4 at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex.
UOP 2 2 3 1 - 8
CAL 1 3 3 2 - 9
UOP: Erdelyi 2, Koning 2, Szabo, Lungu, Obert, Morrison
UOP: Malkis 9 CAL: Justin Parsons 4