No. 2 Bears Complete Comeback Win Over No. 6 UCSB
BERKELEY – The No. 2 Cal men's water polo team scored six unanswered second-half goals and held No. 6 UC Santa Barbara to a single goal after halftime to notch a thrilling 14-13 victory at Spieker Aquatics Complex on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 12-7 at halftime, the Bears (16-2) got a third-quarter score from freshman Max Casabella before erupting for five more in a row in the fourth quarter to lead 13-12 with 1:37 to play. After the Gauchos tied it back up on a penalty shot – their only goal of the second half – with 1:19 left, junior Garrett Dunn registered the game-winning goal with the shot clock winding down and 56 seconds remaining in the game.
The teams then exchanged turnovers before UCSB called a timeout with 11 seconds left to attempt to set up a game-tying score. But a final shot by the Gauchos' Leo Yuno went wide and Cal secured the victory.
"We were getting it done on the defensive end in the second half, and that's why Garrett was in there," said Cal acting head coach Jeff Tyrrell, who led the team Sunday after Kirk Everist was forced to miss one game for receiving a red card during the Bears' previous game at USC. "He brought a ton of energy, and because of that he was presented with an opportunity. It's something he works on at practice. He works on all types of shots, so it's not like it's something he hasn't done before. He was in that position because of what he was doing on the defensive end."
The Bears had only allowed 12 goals or more in a game twice all season entering Sunday, let alone in one half. But Cal clamped down defensively in the second half, led by goalie Adrian Weinberg, the reigning MPSF Player of the Week who made 10 of his 17 saves after halftime.
"Adrian played phenomenal," Dunn said. "He's the best goalie in the country, hands down. It's tough after a first half like that, but he's a really mature guy. Most goalies would drop their head down after a 12-goal half like that. But he got right back after it."
All-American Nikolaos Papanikolaou scored five goals and drew an MPSF season-high 10 exclusions while Casabella, the defending MPSF Newcomer of the Week, had two goals and three assists.
"We said at halftime that the second half would define our season," Dunn said. "That could have been a tough one, but we just played for each other and with each other."
The Bears are back in action Wednesday evening when they host No. 12 Princeton at 6 p.m.