Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships hosted by Stanford took place on November 17-19. There was a lot of excitement and drama, as well as several surprising triumphs. In the end, fourth-seeded USC Trojans won the MPSF Tournament, while UCLA ended up being the runner-up. Cal finished 3rd edging out the top-seeded Stanford.
CAL FALLS TO UCLA, BUT OUTSHOOT PENN STATE BEHREND
No. 3 UCLA advanced to MSPF final match after holding off No. 2 Cal (8:5) in a match which saw the Bears trail constantly. Bruins controlled the game from the very beginning, while Bears seemed kind of helpless and suffered a hard loss.
Bruin David Stiling scored the opener after one minute of play and put his team into the lead. Nicolas Saveljic increased UCLA’s lead 82 seconds later, but Luca Cupido and Safak Simsek responded appropriately, so the result was tied after first eight minutes. This was followed by two crucial quarters for UCLA water polo squad which then achieved a three-goal advantage and managed to preserve it until the end. During the second period, Bruins went ahead 4:2 and 5:3, but their rival successfully kept parity and continuously cut the deficit to one. However, Bears were down by two at halftime (6:4).
The second half saw UCLA water polo players step up their defense, allowing the Bears to net only one goal in the final period. Jesse Camou was the only scorer in the third quarter, as Cal team was left scoreless (7:4). Johnny Hooper scored his second goal in this match to bring down the difference to two, but his team was unable to make a comeback. Matt Farmer scored the eighth UCLA’s goal and sealed his team’s victory. Apart from Hooper, Stiling and Alex Roelse also netted a pair for UCLA.
UCLA 8:5 CAL
(2:2, 4:2, 1:0, 1:1)
Bears afterward recorded a convincing win (27:3) against Penn State Behrend and therefore seized the opportunity to play for the 3rd place. Even seven Cal water polo players managed to score during the first quarter which finished with Bears leading 11:1. It was then pretty obvious who would be the winner. The game’s top scorer was Simsek who netted six goals, whereas Carniglia, Hooper and Conor Neuman each recorded a hat trick.
CAL 27:3 PNS
(1:11, 1:7, 0:5, 1:4)
USC OVERPOWERS PENN STATE BEHREND AND STANFORD
Penn State Behrend was an easy rival for USC water polo team. Impeccable Trojans scored 17 goals overall, 16 of which during the first half. PNS managed to net only one goal in each half, as USC team undoubtedly dominated the pool.
USC 17:2 PNS
(7:1, 9:0, 1:0, 0:1)
After this easy win, highly motivated Trojans faced the top-seeded hosts and proved too strong for them (10:5). USC squad got off to a better start and accomplished a three-goal lead at the very beginning. Cody Smith brought his team’s deficit to two before the end of the first quarter (3:1). Cardinal was able to come closer and was falling behind by one on two occasions during the second period (3:2 and 4:3), but USC eventually went on a break with a three-goal lead (6:3).
The winner was determined in the third quarter when Marko Vavic and Matteo Morelli each netted one unanswered goal. Trojans entered the last eight minutes of the game with an 8:3 lead and powerfully resisted Cardinal’s attempts to jeopardize their win.
USC 10:5 STANFORD
(3:1, 3:2, 2:0, 2:2)
After suffering a tough loss to USC, Penn State Behrend was also forcefully defeated by Stanford (15:0). Cardinal went on to face Cal water polo squad in the 3rd place match.
NO.2 CAL UPSETS NO.1 STANFORD IN OT & TAKE 3RD PLACE
On November 19, Cal water polo players recorded an impressive victory over top-seeded Stanford and won the 3rd place after overtime.
Cardinal started very powerfully and achieved a 3:0 lead by the middle of the first quarter. Stanchi netted the opener for the hosting team, followed by Parrish and Hallock. Then the Bears woke up and Hooper scored the first goal for his team. Stanford went ahead 4:1 thanks to Stapleton, but Hooper and Stellet found the net and brought down the deficit to one. With one minute and 19 seconds left until the end of the first period, Parrish scored again bringing his team a two-goal lead before the second quarter (3:5). Then Cal came out strong and managed to equalize ahead of halftime leaving its opponent scoreless (5:5).
At the beginning of the second half, both teams were struggling to score for more than two minutes. Finally, Tzavaras put Cal squad into the lead, and Hooper increased their lead. Stanford refused to surrender and kept parity. They were down by one before the final period after Hallock’s goal (7:6). Stapleton netted an equalizer in the fourth and then scored another one for Stanford’s new lead, announcing a tough battle until the very end. Cupido managed to equalize with 11 seconds left on the clock and ended up being Cal’s hero.
The 3rd place winner was determined after overtime. That’s when Cal water polo players gathered all their strength left and blocked their rival’s attempts to score. Masmanidis and Cupido each scored once which brought Cal the decisive two-goal lead. Rhodes managed to bring down the difference to one with less than two minutes left until the end of the game. Bears endured all attacks and finally celebrated in the end.
CAL 10:9 STANFORD
(3:5, 2:0, 2:1, 1:2 – 2:0, 0:1)
NO. 4 USC WINS MPSF TITLE BY DOWNING NO. 3 UCLA
Confident USC water polo players entered the final match after the spectacular victory over the No. 1 Stanford. They dominated the entire game and never allowed their rival to equalize let alone take over the lead. Trojans finished the first quarter with a minimum lead thanks to Morelli (1:0). USC remained in control in the second period when James Walters and Blake Edwards scored one after another and put USC into a 3:0 lead. Bruin Max Irving stopped USC’s successful shooting streak, but Grant Stein responded and brought back the three-goal lead for his team. Jack Grover found the net two minutes before the halftime, so UCLA went on a break being down by two (4:2).
Bruins continued to fight and manage to cut down the deficit to one before the final period (5:4). Then USC went ahead 6:4, but Saveljic reacted and UCLA was back to being down by one again. Lachlan Edwards scored the crucial goal one minute before the end of the game and sealed the triumph. Bruins were unable to overcome the difference, so USC won their second consecutive MPSF title.
USC 7:5 UCLA
(1:0, 3:2, 1:2, 2:1)
LOOKING FORWARD TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
NCAA Championship is scheduled for December 2-3, 2017. Eight teams will compete for the 2017 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship: UCLA, Cal, USC, Pacific, Pomona-Pitzer, UC Davis, Harvard and George Washington. Cal water polo team is the defending champion.
Top-seeded UCLA and second-seeded Cal advanced to the semifinals, where they will be waiting for their rivals. Prior to that, Pacific and Pomona-Pitzer will clash with a goal to proceed to the quarterfinal duel with U.C. Davis. On the other side, USC is waiting for the quarterfinal face-off against either Harvard or George Washington.
One of the squads which automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships is Pacific water polo team which won the Golden Coast Conference (GCC) title by defeating UC Irvine (9:5). Tigers were led by Ben Stevenson who scored three goals, while brilliant goalie Alen Osmanovic recorded 12 saves, as much as Matej Matijevic did for UC Irvine. This is the first time that GCC title winner advanced straight to the NCAA Men’s WP Championship.
Pomona-Pitzer qualified for the NCAA Championship as the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Champion. Sagehens defeated Whittier College (9:7) on Sunday.
UC Davis water polo players will also got the chance to compete for the NCAA title as they managed to defend the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) title after beating UC San Diego (9:6).
Harvard will take part in the competition as the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NEWPC) title winner as they accomplished a sudden victory over Princeton after overtime (12:11).
George Washington water polo team made history by edging out Wagner (8:5) to win the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) title for the first time.