Nov. 18, 2012
STOCKTON, CALIF. -
Led by three goals apiece from senior captain Marin Balarin and sophomore Olympian Aleksa Saponjic, the No. 4-ranked Cal men's water polo team secured a No. 3 seeding at the 2012 MPSF Tournament with an 11-9 victory Sunday (Nov. 18) at No. 5 Pacific. The Golden Bears, winners of five straight matches, improved to 15-7 overall and finished conference play 5-3. Cal will next face No. 6 seed Pepperdine on Friday, Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the first round of the MPSF Tournament at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium.
The Bears are tied with Stanford for third place in the league standings, but earned the third seed by defeating the Cardinal, 14-8, during the Oct. 20 Big Splash at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears are 2-0 against Pepperdine this season, defeating the Waves, 12-9, Sept. 30 at the SoCal Invitational in Santa Barbara; and, 12-9, Nov. 9 in an MPSF match in Malibu.
If Cal defeats Pepperdine, it would play the winner of UCLA and Pacific on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. The championship match of the MPSF Tournament is Sunday, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m., with the winner earning an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA championship, Dec. 1-2 at USC.
Along with the scoring of Balarin and Saponjic, junior Giacomo Cupido added two goals and sophomore goalie Jon Sibley finished with nine saves. Leading scorer Collin Smith (58 goals), senior Mason Cox and sophomore Blake Kelly also notched goals for the Bears. Cal set the tone of the match by taking a 3-1 lead after the first period.
Saponjic, who won a bronze medal with Serbia at this summer's London Olympics, and Cupido, from Italy, also paced the Bears with three assists apiece, and Balarin led Cal with three ejections earned.
California 3 - 2 - 4 - 2 --- 11
Pacific 1 - 2 - 3 - 3 --- 9
Cal Saves: Jon Sibley 9