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Big Splash: Cal Men's Water Polo faltered late, loses 11-9 to Stanford

It's Big Splash time, can the Bears win back the Steve Heaston trophy? Update: Apparently not this year, the Heaston trophy will have to stay at The Farm for another year.

It's senior day at Spieker for the Big Splash - Calympian Aleksa Saponjic will try to win back the Steve Heaston trophy today.
It's senior day at Spieker for the Big Splash - Calympian Aleksa Saponjic will try to win back the Steve Heaston trophy today.
Cal Men's Water Polo Facebook

Bears had their chances in this one, but at the end the Stanfurd Cardinal will retain the Steve Heaston trophy. Bears were ahead for almost the entire 1st half but found the match to be tied at the halftime. After 3, the Bears had an one goal lead, but Furd took over in the 4th, capitalizing several times on fast breaks off Cal misses. Furd's Bonnani ends up with 5 goals on the day. Cal is lead by Colin Mulcahy and his 4 goals.

Cal senior goalie Jon Sibley was unreal for the bulk of the match. He saved a penalty shot and several close range 1 on 1 chances by Stanfurd early in the match.

In the end, however, it was Furd 11, Cal 9.

The Golden Bears will look to avenge for this loss in the MPSF tournament in two weeks. Before that, Cal will close the regular season down at USC next Saturday on the same bat time, same bat channel.



No.5 California Golden Bears (20-4, 4-2 MPSF) vs. No.2 Stanfurd Cardinal (19-3, 5-1 MPSF)

When: 10:30 AM PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

After a setup back at No.5 Long Beach State last Saturday, can the Golden Bears rebound with a big win over Stanfurd? Cal and Stanfurd has met twice already this season in tournament play with each winning once, with the Bears' victory coming more recently.

More info on the Cal-Furd rivalry from the game note:

Bear Bites: Looking to top its Bay Area rival, Cal (20-4, 4-2) hosts Stanford (19-3, 5-1) Saturday in a Big Splash/MPSF contest shown live at 10:30 a.m. on the Pac-12 Networks (play-by-play Jim Watson, color analyst Chris Dorst). The winner of the Big Splash will receive the Steve Heaston Trophy, named after the former Cal men’s water polo coach (1989-98, three NCAA titles) who passed away in 1999. The two schools are the most successful in the nation, winning a combined 23 NCAA titles (Cal 13, Stanford 10). The Golden Bears are looking to finish the regular season strong entering the Nov. 21-23 MPSF Tournament in Long Beach, and putting themselves in position for their 27th postseason appearance and an NCAA-record 14th national title. The Bears and Cardinal have split two matches this season – Stanford winning 11-8 Sept. 21 at the Kap7 NorCal Classic and Cal winning 11-7 Oct. 12 at the SoCal Invitational. The Bears are led by senior Aleksa Saponjic’s 58 goals and junior Colin Mulcahy’s 50 goals. Saponjic is fourth in the MPSF in scoring (2.42 gpg), while Mulcahy paced Cal with three goals in the 11-10 win over USC Sept. 21 and freshman Luca Cupido was named the Top Rookie of both the Kap7 Classic and SoCal Invite. Along with being the top scorer, Saponjic leads the Bears with 39 assists, Mulcahy and Cupido have a team-high 26 steals, Cupido a team-best 23 ejections earned, and senior Blake Kelly has a team-best nine field blocks.

The Bears return a strong senior class from last year’s team (18-8, 4-4 in MPSF in 2013), including 11 letterwinners and two All-Americans – second-team selection Saponjic, and honorable mention pick Mulcahy. Senior leaders for Cal also include top field players Kelly, Luka Ivanovic and Matt Russell, who have all logged considerable minutes the past two seasons and will be playing their final home match Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex along with Saponjic and senior goalie Jon Sibley. All three are multiple MPSF and ACWPC All-Academic honorees and have combined for 136 goals and 207 steals in their collegiate careers. Sibley is fresh off of playing with the USA National Team this past summer, now has 374 career saves and was an honorable mention All-American in 2012. Junior Thomas Agramonte and sophomores Farrel South, Thomas Carroll and Chandler Jarrels-Stickney are also talented players who will bolster Everist’s squad in its quest for an NCAA-record 14th national title.

Noting Stanford and The Big Splash: Stanford (19-3, 5-1 MPSF) is coached by John Vargas (13th year) and led by junior Bret Bonanni’s 70 goals in 22 matches (second in MPSF 3.18 gpg). Cal has defeated the Cardinal in two of the last three Big Splashes, winning 11-4, at Stanford in 2011, and, 14-8, at Cal in 2012, before falling, 11-10, last year at Stanford. Since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established in 1999, the series is tied, 7-8, Stanford. In national championship matches between the two schools, Stanford has won four times (1978, 80, 86, 2002) and Cal three (1984, 90, 92).