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MPSF Tournament Championship: No.3 Cal fell to No.1 UCLA in OT 12-11

Bears become the first team in 2015 to push the undefeated UCLA Bruins to OT.

Cal Men's Water Polo Facebook page

UPDATE: Golden Bears are officially NCAA bound. Bears are selected as the 2nd overall seed and will face the winner of USC/Claremont McKenna-Harvey Mudd-Scripps Colleges (so basically, USC) on December 5th. UCLA is the top overall seed and will face the winner of UCSD/Princeton in the other semifinal.

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This was a crazy exciting match, but defending NCAA champ UCLA (28-0) prevailed against our sturdy Golden Bears (23-6) to win the MPSF championship by a 12-11 score on Saturday.

Bears took an early 1-0 lead but had to play catchup for the most parts.

UCLA had 3 goal lead on several occasions but the Bears will not quit and were able to equalize late in the 4th quarter. Bears, in fact, had the chance to win in the end of regulation but couldn't do it.

Bruins scored on a power play late in the first OT. They added a second goal on another power play in the second OT before allowing the Bears a goal to just have some last second hope. With 5 second left, Luca Cupido, who scored the late equalizer in regulation, was not able to find the back of the net as the UCLA keeper made the deflection.

For the fairly young Golden Bears team, the future is now. Bears may have lost to UCLA 4 times already this year, but we are getting closer and closer.

UCLA remains undefeated but were definitely challenged in this one. The two teams are probably the favorites to have a rematch in the NCAA final in two weeks, which will see UCLA with home pool advantage.

GO BEARS!

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California Golden Bears (23-5) vs. UCLA Bruins (27-0)

When: 4:30 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Bay Area/Pac-12 Los Angeles

After a few down seasons by their usual lofty standard, the California Golden Bears Men's Water Polo team is back as a national title contender! Yes, UCLA is undefeated on the year and very likely to hold on to the No.1 ranking and the top seed regardless of today's result, but the Bears have come close to beating UCLA before. A win today will not only give the Bears a conference title but also an ever so important confidence boost ahead of the the NCAA tournament in two weeks.

In the MPSF tournament, the Bears took care of business on Friday with an easy 11-4 win over No.6 UC Santa Barbara.

Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, pushed that to 6-1 at the half before closing out the Gauchos.

On Saturday, the Bears faced a rematch against University of Pacific, the last team to defeat the Bears a couple of weeks ago. It was a back and forth affair. Cal goalie Lazar Andric came up big with a career-high 20 saves. Andric, a transfer from junior college, is in his first year as the goalie for the Bears.

Despite the graduation of Calympian Aleksa Saponjic, the Bears got a nice core of young players. US National team member and sophomore Luca Cupido is all over the place for the Bears. Although he was only 4th on the team with 34 goals before this weekend's tournament, he has come up huge for the Bears so far this weekend. Freshman Johnny Hooper is the go-to scorer for the Bears. Hooper lead the team with 65 goals before this weekend. Fellow freshman Odysseas Masmanidis is 2nd on the team in goals. Senior Colin Mulcahy, who was the hero of Cal's Big Splash win is 3rd on the team in goals.

The UCLA Bruins are in the midst of a 30 match winning streak, dating back to last year. Junior goalkeeper Garrett Danner is in the cage for the Bruins; he just obtained UCLA's program record for saves in the Bruins' 6-3 semifinal win over USC.

Bears and the Bruins have met 3 times so far in 2015. UCLA won 8-6 in the NorCal tournament. UCLA had an easy 13-8 win in the SoCal tournament. Yet in the latest match, the MPSF match, the Bears were merely edged 8-7 by the Bruins. In that one, the Bears lead most of the match, including a 5-3 lead at the half. Bears pushed the lead to 6-3 in the 3rd quarter before the Bruins scored 5 of the next 6 goals to win.

Will today be a different story?

The NCAA Championship will take place December 4th-5th at the other Spieker Aquatics Center hosted by UC Los Angeles.

GO BEARS!