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Bears Split Opening Day

Jan 23, 2021

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BERKELEY - The No. 5 California men's water polo team went 1-1 on the opening day of its season Saturday, defeating No. 3 UCLA, 17-16 in overtime before falling to No. 1 USC, 9-6. 

Newcomers made an immediate impact for the Bears (1-1, 1-1 MPSF) as three players each netted their first goal for the Blue & Gold. Freshman attacker Alika Naone had a hat trick in the first match vs. UCLA and added another goal in the afternoon vs. USC. 

MATCH #1: No. 5 California 17, No. 3 UCLA 16
The Bears and Bruins traded goals throughout much of the high scoring affair to start the season. Cal spread the ball around and saw six players score in the first half, ending the period at a 7-7 tie.

After falling behind in the third quarter, the Bears mounted an offensive surge in the fourth quarter, scoring three goals in the final two minutes of regulation to take a 14-13 lead. UCLA scored at the buzzer to send the match to overtime.

After tying once again at 15 at the end of the first overtime period, Warren Loth and Miles O'Brien-Schridde each scored one for the Bears to take the win in the final three minutes.

Naone led the Bears offensively with his three goals, while Joe Molina, George Avakian, Loth and O'Brien-Schridde each added two of their own. Goalkeeper Adrian Weinberg had 11 saves on the match.

MATCH #1: No. 1 USC 9, No. 5 California 6
The Trojans (1-0, 1-0 MPSF) took an early lead in the second match of the day, heading into halftime with a 5-2 lead over Cal.

Nikolaos Papanikolaou netted a hat trick in the second half alone, but the Bears couldn't close the gap. 

In addition to Papanikolaou's three, Naone, Avakian and Molina each scored one goal for the Bears in the effort. Anthony Rethans had three saves in the cage for Cal.

USC was led offensively by Jacob Mercep, who scored three.

Cal will play rematches against both UCLA and USC on Sunday, taking on the Trojans once again at 10:30 a.m. and matching up against the Bruins at 6:30 p.m. Both matches will be streamed here. Fans can also follow along with live stats for each game as posted on the schedule.

Fans can receive additional in-game updates and behind-the-scenes information all season long by following the Bears' social media accounts (Twitter: @CalWaterPolo, Instagram: @CalMWaterPolo).