Multiple lead changes, several ties and two extra periods were only to be expected from last weekend’s men’s water polo match between Cal and archrival Stanford. Ranked No. 4 and No. 3 in the nation, respectively, both teams faced a daunting competition that brought out the best in both, but the Bears ultimately fell 12-11 in their final game of the regular season.
Hosted at Cal’s own Spieker Aquatics Complex, this big splash was the Bears’ first meeting with the Cardinal this season. Last year, the two programs met three times, two of which ended with a blue and gold victory.
This season, however, Stanford went into the competition with a slightly better record, sporting 18 wins and two losses to Cal’s 16 wins and five losses.
Right before the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams were tied, 9-9. Stanford took a final shot in an attempt to snag the lead before the final buzzer, but Cal goalkeeper Bernardo Carelli forced the match into overtime with a save, only one of 12 total throughout the game.
Stanford’s Ben Hallock was the first to score in overtime, but Cal’s Vassilis Tzavaras found the back of the net right after to knot the game at 10 apiece. Before the end of the first extra period, however, the Cardinal scored once more to leave Cal trailing by one.
That deficit would be doubled by another Cardinal goal with just 1:50 left in the second overtime. Cal junior Safak Simsek cut it back again with 36 seconds remaining on the clock, but all-star Johnny Hooper’s final shot of the game bounced off the goal post. The clock ran down with the Cardinal ahead by a single goal.
That one goal decided the seeding for the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, but the Bears were luckily able to maintain eligibility and salvage the No. 3 seed.
This puts the Bears back in the pool this Friday in Southern California. Though they currently tread that water with an unknown foe, the Bears need to train hard if they want to win and advance to face No. 2 USC on Saturday.
Alison White is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at