Oct. 16, 2005
BERKELEY, CALIF. - The No. 3-ranked California men's water polo team (13-3) lost a hard-fought 9-8 battle against No. 2-ranked USC (13-1) Sunday in the final of the NorCal Open hosted at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Sophomore Michael Sharf led the Golden Bears with three goals against the Trojans, followed by two goals from junior All-American John Mann, and goals from Brian Bacharach, Marty Matthies and Jeff Tyrrell. Senior goalie Nate Bennett tallied nine saves.
USC was paced by Juraj Zatovic's four goals and a pair of goals from Ted Zepfel. The Trojans had jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Zatovic and Juan Delgadillo in the first period, and turned out to be the difference as the two teams were even the rest of the way after Sharf notched the first of his three scores with 2:56 left in the first period.
The Bears had a run at the end of the match to make the contest interesting. The Trojans held a 9-6 lead after Brandon Child scored with 4:17 in the final period, but sophomore Jeff Tyrrell scored on a counterattack with 2:10 left in the contest, and then junior Marty Matthies got Cal within one with a counterattack goal with 35 left in the fourth quarter.
Cal had advanced to the championship match after upending No. 1-ranked and defending national champion UCLA, 7-6, in the semifinals. Mann led the Bears with three goals and Matthies chipped in two goals. Matthies ended up knocking in the game-winner with 1:49 left in the contest, and goalie Bennett had a final second block on the Bruin's John Blanchete to preserve the win.
Cal will next host UC Irvine in an MPSF match, Saturday, Oct. 22 at Spieker Aquatics Complex (time TBA). For complete results of the NorCal Open, go to the men's water polo page on www.calbears.com.
NorCal Open Championship Match California 8, USC 9
USC 2 3 2 2 - 9
California 1 3 2 2 - 8
Goals - USC Juraj Zatovic 4, Ted Zepfel 2, Juan Delgadillo, Brandon Child Jovan Vranes.
Saves - USC Don Ricci 6
California Nate Bennett 9
Records USC 13-1, California 13-3
Semifinal UCLA 6, California 7
UCLA 1 2 0 3 - 6
California 1 0 1 5 - 7
Goals - UCLA Christian Pulido 2, David Pietsch 2, Cameron Smith, John Blanchete.
Saves - UCLA Will Didinger 11.
California - Nate Bennett 10