Cal Golden Bears (16-6, 4-3) at Stanford Cardinal (18-4, 6-1)
When: 10 AM PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Although the Bears have played 'Furd twice this year already in tournament setting, this is the one for the bragging rights. Bears would look to avenge two early season losses to 'Furd today by retaining the Steve Heaston Trophy (doesn't quite roll off your tongue like The Axe) for the 3rd straight year.
By breaking through against a top 4 teams for the first time this year, the 5th ranked Bears would love to get some momentum and confidence heading into the very tough and important MPSF tournament next weekend in Stockton. Bears would need to win the MPSF tournament to make the
4-team brand new 6-team NCAA tournament (with at most 3 teams from the MPSF).
The Big Splash: Cal has defeated the Cardinal in the last two Big Splashes, 11-4, at Stanford in 2011, and, 14-8, at Cal in 2012. Since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established in 1999, the series is tied, 7-7. Cal and Stanford are the nation’s two most successful programs, with the Bears winning 13 NCAA titles and the Cardinal 10. In national championship matches between the two schools, Stanford has won four times (1978, 80, 86, 2002) and Cal three (1984, 90, 92).
In the last week, Bears had couple easy tune-ups at home against Santa Clara and UC Irvine.
Who to watch for the Bears (from game note):
Cal's top scorers this season are Colin Mulcahy (34), Aleksa Saponjic (33) and Collin Smith (32). Other stat leaders include senior Giacomo Cupido with 32 assists and 31 steals, sophomore Thomas Agramonte with 25 ejections earned and Mulcahy with 12 field blocks.
Senior Collin Smith had a bit of a scoring drought but broke through with a hat trick against UC Irvine. Fellow senior Hunter Gettelfinger has 20 goals, including 6 in the last two matches, peaking at just the right time. Playing goal for the Bears is typically junior Jon Sibley.
For 'Furd, sophomore Bret Bonanni has 74 goals, good for best goal per game average in the conference.
Don't know much about water polo? Here is a quick intro:
This is a huge rivalry game (and the biggest one in water polo), so you can throw all those stats aside. Who has more heart and desire will likely prevail.
GOAL ON YOU BEARS!