BERKELEY – Cal men’s water polo made a furious comeback in the third period, but gave up three late goals in the fourth quarter to drop a 12-10 decision to Stanford in the third-place match of the 2013 NorCal Invitational Sunday (Sept. 22) at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears (6-2) finished the tournament 2-2 – defeating Air Force (17-8) and Long Beach State (15-10) on Saturday – before falling to UCLA (6-5) and Stanford on Sunday.
Juniors Aleksa Saponjic and Luka Ivanovic, and sophomore Colin Mulcahy, paced Cal with two goals apiece against the Cardinal. After being down, 8-6, in the third period, senior captain Collin Smith got the Bears within one when he converted on a five-meter penalty shot. Saponjic then tied the contest, 8-8, when he scored with 2:05 left in the third, and senior Giacomo Cupido scored off an impressive assist from Mulcahy to give Cal and 9-8 lead entering the fourth quarter.
With 5:13 left in the match, Stanford’s Alex Bowen scored to knot the game at 9-9. Mulcahy was then able to convert on a five-meter penalty shot – that was forced by Thomas Agramonte – to give the Bears a 10-9 advantage with 4:13 left. But, the Cardinal were able to score three times in the final four minutes to produce the 12-10 win.
Against UCLA in an earlier match, Cal was led by redshirt freshman Farrel South’s two goals. On Saturday, Saponjic scored six goals in the victory over Long Beach State to advance the Bears to the semifinals. In the Saturday morning match, Cal had defeated Air Force, 17-8, behind three goals from sophomore Mitchell Hamilton.
"As usual, this was a very tough tournament," said Cal coach Kirk Everist. "I felt that there were some very good things we will take out of it. We need to improve and I am confident we will."
Stanford 4 - 2 - 2 - 4 --- 12
California 3 - 2 - 4 - 1 --- 10
Cal Goals: Colin Mulcahy 2, Aleksa Saponjic 2, Luka Ivanovic 2, Collin Smith, Farrel South, Matt Russell, Giacomo Cupido
Cal Saves: Jon Sibley 5
UCLA 0 - 3 - 1 - 2 --- 6
California 1 - 1 - 1 - 2 --- 5
Cal Goals: Farrel South 2, Aleksa Saponjic, Max Schell, Collin Smith
Cal Saves: Jon Sibley 4