Oct. 27, 1997
Bears Host Air Force, UC Davis and UCLA
LAST WEEK: The California men's water polo team (15-4, 6-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play, ranked No. 4 last week in the Coaches Top-20 poll) took another key step in its bid for an NCAA berth with two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation victories last weekend in Los Angeles. The Bears defeated No. 6 ranked UC Irvine, 7-1, Oct. 24, and No. 5 ranked and defending national champion UCLA, 9-8 in overtime Oct. 25 at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. Cal only has one more conference match, a home contest Nov. 16 versus UC Santa Barbara. If the Bears can defeat the Gauchos, they would have a 7-1 MPSF record and assure themselves no worse than a No. 2 seeding in the important MPSF Tournament Nov. 27-30 in Long Beach. The winner of the MPSF Tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Dec. 5-7 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Cal, which has outscored its opponents 203-108 so far this season, hosts all of its home water polo matches at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill this year due to the construction of Haas Pavilion on the Cal campus.
HEAD COACH STEVE HEASTON: Steve Heaston is in his ninth year as Cal's head coach with a 204-43 (.826) career record and three national titles ('90, '91, '92). Heaston has guided the Bears to NCAA titles in 1990, '91 and '92 and has been named NCAA Coach of the Year twice ('90 and '92). Cal's victory over UMass on Oct. 17 of this season was Heaston's 200th career victory.
NOTING AIR FORCE, UC DAVIS AND UCLA: The Air Force Falcons (ranked No. 14 last week in the Top-20 poll) are 11-7 overall this season and in the last match-up with Cal were defeated by the Bears, 9-2, Oct. 13 at the 1996 NorCal Tournament in Stockton. The UC Davis Aggies (ranked No. 15 last week), who have lost five straight, are 8-15 overall and led by senior two-meter Mike Gotelli with 59 goals. Cal has defeated the Aggies twice this season, 21-5, Sept. 14 at DVC, and 18-3 Sept. 20 at the Southern California Tournament. The two-time defending national champion UCLA Bruins (ranked No. 5 last week in the Top-20 poll) are 10-7 overall (3-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) and after losing to Cal last week, defeated Pacific, 10-2. UCLA's leading scorer is freshman two-meter Sean Kern with 27 goals. The Bears lost to UCLA, 10-8, in the 1995 NCAA title match.
BEAR NOTES: In the victory over UC Irvine, seven different players scored for the Bears and junior goalie Peter Kiefer (Pacific Palisades, CA) had 10 saves. Cal jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first period and only allowing the Anteaters to score a goal in the fourth period. Against UCLA, the Bears fell behind 4-1 at halftime, but scored seven goals in the second half. Going into the fourth period, the Bruins held a 7-5 lead until Cal captain Brent Albright (Lompoc, CA) scored a two-pointer to tie the score, 7-7. Both teams scored one more goal before regulation for the 8-8 tie. Albright then made a four-meter penalty shot in the first three minute overtime period for the 9-8 win. Albright, who was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week Sept. 29, has also led the Bears to two victories over USC this season. He scored with nine second left against the Trojans Oct. 12 in Los Angeles to send the match into overtime and help Cal to the 10-8 win. Albright was also the star in the Bears win versus USC, Sept. 27 at Diablo Valley College, as he scored the match-winning goal with 1:19 left to break a 8-8 tie and lead the Bears to their first victory over the Trojans since 1995. A three-time All-American, Albright now has 168 career points.
NOTING CAL WATER POLO: Since the first NCAA water polo championship in 1969, the Bears have been in the national title match 17 of the 28 years, winning 11 national championships (1973-75, '77, '83-'84, '87-'88, '90, '91, '92).