UPDATE: Bears take 3rd place after defeating UC San Diego 20-9 on Sunday.
That's a wrap. Cal defeats UC San Diego 20-9 to take third place at the NCAA Championships! #GoBears— Cal Water Polo (@CalWaterPolo) December 7, 2015
Bears' NCAA championship aspiration came to an end on Saturday night when the Bears lost in the semifinal to USC Trojans by a 9-6 results. The Trojans defense was able to stymie the Cal offense. The key difference came in the power play (6 on 5) conversion rate. Bears were 3 for 10 while the Trojans were 6 for 9. Outshooting the Trojans 35 to 25 for the match, Bears were also only 1 for 3 on the 5 meter penalties. Lots of missed offensive opportunities.
Bears were behind early and could never quite get back in this one. Luca Cupido lead the team with 2 goals. Johnny Hooper, Colin Mulcahy, Farrel South, and Chandler Jarrels-Stickney added a goal apiece.
Black Edwards lead the Trojans with 3 goals. Nick Bell and Matteo Morelli added two goals apiece.
With the loss, the Bears will wrap up their 2015 campaign with a 3rd place match against UC San Diego on Sunday. Trojans will play the UCLA Bruins for the NCAA title in a rematch of last year (won by UCLA who are undefeated on the season).
No.2 California Golden Bears (23-6) vs. No.3 USC Trojans (21-6)
When: 6 pm PT (6:12 pm PT to be precise)
Where: Spieker Aquatic Center (the one that is the home of UCLA...as opposed to Spieker Aquatic Complex in Berkeley)
Free Online Stream: NCAA.com
Live Update: Cal Men's Water Polo Twitter (@CalWaterPolo)
While top seed UC Los Angeles is expected to have an easy time against UC San Diego in the other semifinal, the California Golden Bears would be wise to not overlook the USC Trojans in the NCAA Championship semifinal tonight. Yes, the young Cal Bears squad is clearly playing their best water polo as of late, including a MPSF regular season win over USC 12-10 in Berkeley. Yes, the USC Trojans are the last team to make the NCAA tournament, only able to over take Pacific thanks to a second half run in the MPSF 3rd place match to make their win over Pacific to appear to be more impressive. Yes, the USC Trojans had to play a play-in match on Thursday - an easy 20-5 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Still, since the Bears won their back-to-back titles in 2006-07, USC has gone on to win 6 straight NCAA titles, including years where they were not the favorite for the crown (their 2010 double OT win over the Bears come to mind) - a streak that was only snapped by UCLA last year, where the Bruins had to beat the Trojans in the title game. Head coach Jovan Vacic is still leading the Trojans and they are not to be taken lightly.
Bears defeated USC 12-10 about a month ago on Halloween (it went much better than the Cal-USC contest in a different sport that night).
Bears played great defensive as a team and had a fine outing by 1st year goalkeeper in JuCo transfer Lazar Andric. Freshman Johnny Hooper had 4 goals to lead the Bears.
It is a young squad for the Golden Bears. So young in fact, I gave them little chance to compete for the NCAA title in my fall season preview, instead was merely hoping for a return to top 4 in the rankings. Of course, now that we are two matches away, I can't help but to say that I don't think I will be satisfied with just a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Bears only have two seniors on the squad. Colin Mulcahy is a big part of the Cal defense. Thomas Agramonte is one of the Bears' key defender.
For USC, the Edwards brother are their key offensive pieces for their high power offense - one that just scored 20 goals in the play-in match. Blake Edwards lead the team with 64 goals and Lachlan Edwards is 3rd with 37 goals. Grant Stein has 44 goals for the Trojans. USC has 384 goals on the year.
McQuin Baron is the Trojans' top goalie, he only played half of the match on Thursday.
Bears have scored 400 goals on the year. Freshmen duo of Hooper and Odysseas Masmanidis lead the team with 69 and 62 goals, respectively. Colin Mulcahy is 3rd with 52 goals. US National Team member Luca Cupido has 40 goals to go with being everywhere defensively. Cupido has also been strong as of late in scoring goals.
As previously stated, Lazar Andric is the man in the cage for the Bears.
Ideally, the Bears can handle USC easily tonight to save some energy for the potential match with the undefeated UCLA Bruins tomorrow.