Nov. 27, 2010
STANFORD, CALIF. -The No. 1-ranked Cal men's water polo team saw its 14-match winning streak come to an end, falling 8-6 to host Stanford in the semifinals of the 2010 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament Saturday, Nov. 27 at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center. The Golden Bears, who dropped to 22-3, will now play UCLA on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the third place match. The Bruins had lost to USC, 10-5, in the other semifinal. Cal had defeated the Cardinal three times this season before falling in the conference tournament at Stanford.
The Bears were led by two goals from junior left-hander Luka Saponjic. Ivan Rackov, Brian Dudley, Charlie Steffens and Giacomo Cupido also scored for Cal. Sophomore goalie Justin Parsons recorded 10 saves.
Stanford outscored the Bears, 2-1, in the fourth period and that proved to be the difference. Junior captain Steffens had tied the match, 6-6, when he bounced the ball past Stanford goalie Brian Pingree with 5:15 left in the contest. But, the Cardinal's Sage Wright scored on a 6-on-5 situation with 3:29 in the match and then Jacob Smith sealed the win when he converted on a five-meter penalty shot with 1:44 left for the 8-6 victory.
In the first period, Stanford scored first on a Forrest Watkins lob over Parsons. Cal came back on Saponjic's water bounce shot inside and a counterattack goal by senior captain Dudley, in which Dudley gathered in a steal and swam the length of the pool to score. Finally with no time on the clock at the end of the first period, Jacob Smith scored on another lob over Parsons.
Stanford earned a 4-3 advantage at the half. Travis Noll scored from down low on the left side with 6:08 in the second period, followed by a 6-on-5 goal by Paul Rudolph with 4:22 left in the period. Cal got back within one when freshman Giacomo Cupido scored on a long backhand with 2:16 left in the half just as the shot clock expired.
The two teams had traded goals in the third period with Rackov converting on a five-meter penalty shot and Saponjic getting the Bears within, 6-5, with a cross cage goal with 29 seconds left in the third period.
The winner of the MPSF Tournament gets an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Cal still has a good shot of receiving an at-large berth due to an outstanding regular season record and a perfect 8-0 mark in the MPSF league standings.
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.
Stanford - 2 2 2 2 = 8
California - 2 1 2 1 = 6
Stanford Goal Scorers - Smith 2, Rudolph 2, Watkins, Noll, Pulido, Wright
Goalie Saves: - Pingree 7 (S); Justin Parsons 10 (C)