Nov. 19, 2010
BERKELEY -The No. 1-ranked Cal men's water polo team finished the regular season 21-2 and a perfect 8-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a 9-6 victory over Bay Area rival Stanford (13-7, 5-3) in the annual Big Splash Friday (Nov. 19) at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears, who are the No. 1 seeded team going into next weekend's MPSF conference tournament, won their 13th match in a row and were led by two goals apiece from senior center Zach White and junior attackers Ivan Rackov and Luka Saponjic. Sophomore goalie Justin Parsons also had a stellar match with nine saves, including four saves in the fourth period.
Under rainy conditions at Spieker Aquatics Complex, the match was a back and forth affair. Cal jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period on a pair inside goals from White. The Cardinal came back to tie the contest, 2-2, on goals by Paul Rudolph and Peter Sefton, only to see the Bears again take a two goal advantage on a shot by junior Luka Saponjic with 11 seconds left in the second period and junior Cory Nasoff's goal early in the third period.
Stanford came back again when Sage Wright bounce the ball past Parsons with 5:42 in the third period and Jeffrey Schwimer tied the match, 4-4, on a five-meter penalty shot at 3:55 left in the third period.
At that point Cal was able wrestle back control of the match, tallying three straight when junior Zach Greenwood scored off a Rackov miss, and Rackov had two counterattack goals to take a 7-4 lead. The Cardinal got back within, 7-6, on scores by Schwimer and Jacob Smith, but the Bears sealed the match when Saponjic scored on a long backhand shot from seven meters out and senior captain Brian Dudley lofted a shot from mid-pool when Stanford goalie Brian Pingree came out of the cage with 43 seconds left in the game.
The win gave the Bears the Steve Heaston Trophy, named after the former Cal men's water polo coach (1989-98, three NCAA titles) who passed away in 1999, for first time since 2004.
"Winning the Steve Heaston Trophy is great and going undefeated in league play is something we have not done since I have been here," said Cal coach Kirk Everist, who has led the Bears to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA titles in nine years at the helm. "Our team played hard in a back and forth game under challenging circumstances. It was a typical Big Splash when anything can happen. The team did a great job and hopefully we can keep this momentum going into the conference tournament."
The Bears will next travel to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, Nov. 26-28, at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center. Cal is the No. 1 seed entering the conference championship and will play the No. 8 seed on Friday, Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. If the Bears win that match, they will play in the MPSF semifinals between the winner of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m. If Cal captures the semifinal, it would play in the conference championship match on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.
Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex will be the host site of the 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, Dec. 4-5, as well. Tickets and information on the NCAA tournament are available through the following links, Click here for 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship tickets, 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship page. Cal will also host the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship in 2011.
No. 5 Stanford 0 2 2 2 - 6
No. 1 Cal 2 1 3 3 - 9
Goals Stanford: Jeffrey Schwimer 2, Paul Rudolph, Jacob Smith, Sage Wright, Peter Sefton
Goalkeeper Saves Stanford: Brian Pingree 10
California: Justin Parsons 9