College NCAA Water Polo (Men)

California opens MPSF play defeating NCAA champion (VIDEO)

Johnny Hooper (California) reacts to his converted 5 meter vs UCLA (PHOTO: CATHARYN HAYNE / KLC FOTOS)

The NCAA champions the UCLA Bruins have been defeated for the 2nd time this season.

After a 7:8 loss in a clash with Stanford in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Invitational two weeks ago, No 3 UCLA was defeated by No. 2 California. The encounter, played in front of California’s supporters, was the MPSF Conference opener for both teams.

The hosts led throughout the game. By halftime, the California Golden Bears earned a 2-goal lead (5:3). Cal’s advantage grew to 7:4 after the third period.

It seemed that everything was decided. But, UCLA team was able to come back and to cut the deficit to 6:7 with 2:12 remaining on the clock.

Johnny Hooper converted a penalty to take California to 8:6 just 26 seconds from time. UCLA responded with a goal for 8:7 with 17 seconds before the end. California’s freshmen Marko Valecic, who came from Croatia this summer, decided everything. He found the net in the last second to set the final score – 9:7.

Video source: California Bears/YouTube Channel

The best player of the match was Johnny Hooper, with two goals, two assists, and four steals. He recorded 39 goals in just 10 games this season. Hooper leads the MPSF in scoring average (3,9 goals per game). He has scored 235 goals in the entire NCAA career and he is tied for the 12th place in MPSF history, with former Cal’s player, the Serb Ivan Rackov, (2008 – 2011).

Nikos Delagrammaticas also scored twice in Calfornia’s win. On the other side, Ashworth Molthen recorded a game-high three goals.

California 9:7 UCLA
(2:1, 3:2, 2:1, 2:3)


No.1 USC recorded the 25th win this season (25 – 1 overall, 0 – 1 MPSF), by beating No. 5 Pacific 10:5. The best scorers in the USC team were Hannes Daube and Jacob Mercep, who netted three goals apiece. Luis Araya (Pacific) also hit the back of the cage three times.

Besides issuing a hat trick, Daube had two steals and an assist in this match. Daube secured his fourth MPSF Newcomer of the Week award this season, which is all-time MPSF Men’s Water Polo record.

USC 10:5 Pacific
(2:0, 1:1, 4:3, 3:1)


No 2. Stanford played two games at home. Firstly, the Cardinal hosted No. 9 UC Davis. After the second period, Stanford had a slim 8:7 lead. The hosts controlled the match in the second period and, boosted by junior Bennett Williams (4 goals), beat UC Davis 13:10.

Stanford 13:10 UC Davis
(4:4, 4:3, 3:2, 2:1)


A day later, Stanford faced No.11 UC Irvine. The man of the match was sophomore Ben Hallock, who scored a career-best eight goals in Stanford’s convincing 16:10 win. Hallock was the first MPSF player who netted eight goals in a match in the last three years. Bret Bonanni (Stanford), scored nine in September 2015.

Hallock was voted for the Player of the week.

Stanford 16:10 UC Irvine
(5:1, 5:3, 3:3, 3:3)

MPSF Schedule (October 26th – 28th)

Stanford – UC Davis 13:10
California – UCLA 9:7
Stanford – UC Irvine 16:10
USC – Pacific 10:5


Stanford 17 – 1 overal (1 – 0 MPSF)
California 16 – 3 (1 – 0)
USC 25 – 1 (0 – 1)
UCLA 19 – 2 (0 – 1)
Penn State Behrend 3 – 17 (0-0)
Austin College 1 – 12 (0 – 0)


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