In a disastrous weekend for Cal men’s water polo, the Bears dropped two close matches against ranked opponents to fall to 3-3 for the season. No. 5 Cal faced No. 11 UC Davis and No. 6 Pacific for its home opening weekend, losing both matches 13-16 (OT) and 12-14, respectively.
Against Davis, the Bears started well, leading by as much as three in the first half and earning an 8-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Tied at 10-10 in the fourth, seniors Jordan Hoover and Safak Simsek scored a pair of goals to give Cal a 12-10 lead, but, in the final 25 seconds, Davis scored two goals to end regulation at 12-12. Davis’ Max Somple scored the tying goal with only nine seconds on the clock.
The Bears fell behind in overtime 13-12, but another goal by Simsek as a result of a penalty evened out the score. The rest of the overtime period was one-sided, as the Aggies scored three straight goals to upset Cal 13-16. During the game, Adrian Weinberg recorded a season-high 17 saves, and Simsek led the Bears with three goals.
The next day, Cal had a chance to redeem the first loss of the weekend with a win against No. 5 Pacific. The Bears didn’t start quite as well as they did against the Aggies, but managed to keep the score close for the first three quarters, leading by as many as two goals and never trailing behind by more than one. Hoover also completed a hat trick in the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers struck first and extended their lead to 11-9, but once again a pair of goals tied it up for the Bears. This time, Sismek recorded one of the goals again, but junior Jasmin Kolasinac stepped up to contribute the other goal for Cal to help tie things up at 11. Pacific’s Jeremie Cote responded within a minute to retake the lead, but, for a final time, a goal by Sismek saved Cal. In the final 3:28 of the fourth quarter, the Tigers were able to score two unanswered goals, sealing the match for Pacific.
Sismek and Hoover both recorded five goals this weekend, and freshman Nikolaos Papanikolaou was just behind them with four. Sophomores Jack Deely and Kolasinac also had three steals for the weekend. Cal was even able to convert on all four of its penalty shots.
The Bears are only 2-3 against ranked teams this season with their only ranked wins coming against No. 13 UC Irvine and No. 14 Loyola Marymount — the lowest ranked teams on their schedule.
The Bears will get a rematch against Davis next Sunday when they travel to the 2019 Aggie Roundup, where they will also play No. 18 California Baptist, No. 20 San Jose State and Santa Clara. The Aggie Roundup will be a tough competition with even more ranked opponents that the Bears will have to prove themselves against.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at