Nov. 24, 1997
Bears Travel to MPSF Tournament
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 28-30 - at MPSF Tournament, Belmont Plaza Pool, Long Beach, CA All Day
If the Bears win, they play the winner of Stanford-UC Irvine Sat. at 1 p.m. If Cal wins in the semifinals, the championship match is Sun. Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m.
LAST WEEK: The California men's water polo team (20-5, 7-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play, ranked No. 3 last week in the Coaches Top-20 poll) upset No. 2 ranked Stanford, 7-6 in the Big Splash, Nov. 22 at deGuerre Pool on the Stanford campus. The Bears led throughout the match, including a 4-1 lead at the end of the first half and a 5-2 lead after three periods. Cal was able to hold-off a Stanford comeback, despite the Cardinal scoring a two-point goal to make the score, 7-6, with 1:35 left in the contest. The win over Stanford was important for the Bears because Cal is likely to face the Cardinal in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament. In head-to-head competition, Cal is 2-0 versus Stanford this season, which will help the Bears in an at-large berth selection. In the '90s, Cal leads the series 21-8, including defeating Stanford in the 1990 (8-7) and 1992 (12-11 in sudden death overtime) NCAA title match. The Bears have a final 7-1 league record and are the No. 2 seed at the MPSF Tournament. The winner of MPSF Tournament receives the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, Dec. 5 and 7 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Cal's only league loss came to No. 1 ranked Pepperdine, 6-4, Oct. 11 at Pepperdine.
HEAD COACH STEVE HEASTON: Steve Heaston is in his ninth year as Cal's head coach with a 209-44 (.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 MPSF TOURNAMENT: The seedings for the MPSF Tournament (league record in brackets)--No. 1 Pepperdine (8-0), No. 2 Cal (7-1), No. 3 Stanford (6-2), No. 4 USC (5-3), No. 5 UCLA (4-4), No. 6 UC Irvine (3-5), No. 7 UC Santa Barbara (1-7), No. 8 Long Beach State (1-7) and No. 9 Pacific (1-7). In other first round matches, Pepperdine will face the winner of Long Beach State-Pacific; Stanford will face UC Irvine and USC will face UCLA. In 1997, he Bears have a 14-5 record against the tournament field. In 1995, Cal won the MPSF Tournament in the first year the NCAA Championships went from an eight to a four-team tournament. Last season, the Bears finished third at the MPSF Championships, held at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
BEAR NOTES: In the victory over Stanford, junior Brad Kittredge (Santa Barbara, CA) led Cal with three goals, including the game-winner with 4:11 left to play in the match. Other scorers for the Bears included freshman Eldad Hazor (Tivon, Israel), who scored a two-point goal with 1:39 in the second period; senior captain Brent Albright (Lompoc, CA), who scored the match's first goal with 1:39 in the first period and junior Ryan Flynn (Los Angeles, CA), who scored with 2:26 in the second period. The Bears have shown outstanding depth this season with nine different players having scored 15 or more goals. Junior Phinney Gardner (San Clemente, CA) and Albright lead Cal in scoring with 36 points apiece. Albright, a three-time All-American and the Sept. 29 MPSF Player of the Week, has been a clutch player for the Bears this year. He made a four-meter penalty shot in overtime for the 9-8 win at UCLA Oct. 25, and has also led Cal to two victories over USC this season. Albright scored with nine second left against the Trojans Oct. 12 in Los Angeles to send the match into overtime (Cal won 10-8), and 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 Sept. 27 at DVC. Albright now has 175 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). Cal has won 33 conference championships and have had five NCAA Coaches of the Year, 13 Collegiate Players of the Year, 11 Conference Players of the Year, 134 All-Americans and 21 Olympians.