No.3 Golden Bears (18-3) withstood a late comeback attempt from No.6 Stanford (1206) to win the 2016 Big Splash by a 11-10 final score. The Bears got to send out their 4 seniors out in style by retaining the Steve Heaston Trophy.
Bears led 5-3 at the half but used a strong 3rd quarter to push the lead to 10-6. Stanford made a late run when the Bears lost their aggressiveness but time was on Cal’s side.
Calympian Luca Cupido and Greek national teamer Odysseas Masmanidis scored three goals apiece. Johnny Hooper added a pair of goals. Senior Thomas Carroll and US national teamer Nicholas Carniglia and Vassilis Tzavaras scored a goal apiece.
Senior goalie Lazar Andric tied a career high with 20 saves.
In other Men’s Water Polo news, No.2 USC today ended No.1 UCLA’s NCAA record winning streak of 57 consecutive victories. Now that it has been proven that UCLA is vulnerable (Bears were the only one to really push them in the past two seasons), the 2016 NCAA Championship is up for grab between UCLA, USC, and Cal. Golden Bears will have an edge since the 2016 championship will be taking place in Spieker Aquatic Center in Berkeley.
Sadly, only two of the three schools will get to compete in the NCAA as a new Men’s Water Polo conference (which took away all the non-Pac-12 teams from the MPSF), the Golden Coast Conference means that there will only be one at-large bid again.
What all these means is that it is pivotal for No.3 Cal to beat No.2 UCLA in the MPSF tournament down in LA on Friday at 4:30 PM PT. The Golden Bears are certainly capable of doing so, but that is effectively the play-in game for the NCAA tournament.
GOAL ON YOU BEARS!
California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal
Where: Spieker Aquatic Center
When: 11 AM PT
TV: Pac-12 Bay Area
Golden Bears will close their regular season (MPSF Tournament and the NCAA Tournament,
most certainly hopefully, are next) with the Big Splash this morning from Spieker Aquatic Center. It is also Senior Day as the Bears honor their 4 senior members: Goalkeeper Lazar Andric, utility player Chandler Jarrels and defenders Thomas Carroll and Farrel South.
From my chat with Farrel South at the beginning of the season (which I doubt anyone from Stanford printed it out to put on a bulletin board): he nearly guaranteed another Big Splash win. Let’s hope that he is correct in this emotional match.
Golden Bears are paced by sophomore Johnny Hooper who is also the leading scorer in MPSF. After missing parts of the season to play with the Greek national team, Odysseas Masmanidis is also back and scoring in bunches for the Bears. Rio 2016 Calympian Luca Cupido, who paced the Bears with a season high 5 goals in the last match, is playing a great all around game. Cal keeper Andric is leading the MPSF in saves (though that is not necessarily a good thing since one would like their defense to have more field blocks and force more turnovers).
Stanford has graduated Bret Bonnani and replaced him with a more balanced (but less potent?) attack. They are coming off back-to-back losses but they were both by just one goal each.
So far this year, the Golden Bears have only dropped matches to No.1 UCLA (2x) and one uncharacteristic road outing at USC. Expect the Bears to be at their top form for this rivalry match. At their best, the Golden Bears are as good as anyone.