Nov. 27, 2011
LOS ANGELES, CALIF -Cal sophomore Giacomo Cupido scored with 1:28 left in the fourth period in what ended up being the winning goal as the Golden Bears defeated Bay Area rival Stanford, 8-7, Sunday (Nov. 27) in the third place match of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament at UCLA's Spieker Aquatic Center. The Golden Bears improved to 22-4 and will now wait to see if they receive an at-large berth into the 2011 NCAA Championship, Dec. 3-4 at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex. The announcement of the tournament field will be later Sunday night (approximately 7:30 p.m. Pacific time available on NCAA.com).
USC and UCLA play in the MPSF championship match at 3 p.m. Sunday with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship. Cal had opened the MPSF Tournament with a 15-9 victory over UC Irvine, but fell to host UCLA, 7-6 in overtime, in the tournament semifinal.
The Bears were led by two goals apiece from Cupido, freshman Aleksa Saponjic and junior college transfer Ayal Keren. Senior Luka Saponjic and junior Marin Balarin also scored goals for the Bears, while junior goalie Justin Parsons finished with six saves.
The Bears were bolstered by four goals in the third period in their victory over Stanford. Cal trailed 1-0 after the first period, but was able to tie the match, 2-2, in the second period when Aleksa Saponjic scored with 6:19 in the quarter and Cupido had his first goal of the match with 5:27 left in the half.
Stanford's Paul Rudolph gave his team a 3-2 halftime lead when he scored with 34 seconds left in the second period. However, the Bears were able to outscore the Cardinal, 4-2, in the third period on goals by Luka Saponjic, Balarin, Keren and Aleksa Saponjic to take a 6-5 lead.
The contest came down to the final minutes of the fourth period. Cal was able to take a two goal lead when Keren notched his second goal with 7:42 left in the match. Stanford got within 7-6 on Rudolph's third goal of the match at 3:14 left, but following a Bear timeout, Cupido was able to give Cal the cushion it needed when he scored from about seven meters out to put the Bears up, 8-6. The Cardinal was able to narrow the deficit to one goal when Ryan Brown scored with 18 seconds left in the contest.
"It was a tough game today," said Cal coach Kirk Everist. "But the guys played hard and gutted it out. It was obviously a very important win for us."
The Bears' four losses this season have all been by one goal - including 6-5 to UCLA Sept. 18 in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament in Stockton, 10-9 in overtime to Stanford Oct. 2, and 9-8 in sudden death overtime to USC Oct. 15 at Cal. Cal finishes the regular season with three victories over Stanford this season, 8-7 in the MPSF Tournament, 8-7 on Sept. 18 in the third place match of the NorCal Tournament, and 11-4 Nov. 19 in the Big Splash at Stanford.
Stanford 1 2 2 2 - 7
California 0 2 4 2 - 8
Stanford Goals: Paul Rudolph 3, Jacob Smith, Forrest Watkins, Travis Noll, Ryan Brown
Stanford Saves: Brian Pingree 7
California Saves: Justin Parsons 6