No. 2 Bears Earn Dramatic Win In Big Splash
BERKELEY – Holding an opponent scoreless for over 21 minutes is not exactly something you can regularly expect.
But winning big games sometimes takes big performances, and the No. 2 Cal men's water polo team put on a defensive display of a lifetime in a thrilling 12-10 overtime victory over No. 4 Stanford in Saturday's Big Splash at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
The Cardinal scored a goal on the first possession of the second half and didn't score again, as the Bears (18-2, 2-0 MPSF) came back from a 10-8 deficit to get their hands on The Heaston Trophy, given to the winner of the annual Big Splash between Cal and Stanford.
"That doesn't happen very often," Cal head coach Kirk Everist said. "That's a long stretch. If you tell Stanford we are going to score two goals in the second half and they are up a goal at halftime, they think they are going to win. But it just became a slugfest. Guys were tired and just kind of slogging through. We got a couple of really nice attacks and finishes in overtime."
After a frantic first half that saw the teams combine for 17 goals, scoring was suddenly hard to come by after halftime. The Cardinal opened the scoring in the third quarter with a power play goal, but the Bears trimmed the deficit to 10-9 on a goal by freshman Roberto Valera with 4:59 left in the period. The Bears then tied it on a goal by Garrett Dunn with 3:13 remaining in regulation.
Cal goalie Adrian Weinberg made 15 saves, including a spectacular stop on a shot by Stanford's Walker Seymour with nine seconds left in regulation.
All-American Jack Deely gave the Bears the lead for good – and their first advantage since early in the second quarter – with a goal at the 2:08 mark of the first overtime. Cal then established some comfort room by employing its Spanish freshmen connection, with Valera assisting on a goal by Max Casabella with 1:41 left in the second overtime.
The game was played in front of a standing-room only crowd in Berkeley.
"There was one point where I just looked around at the atmosphere and just got a rush of adrenaline," Weinberg said. "I was dead tired, but I totally forgot about it because I just thought about the crowd and the situation."
The Bears are now one win away from winning the MPSF regular season championship. They host No. 1 UCLA next Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
"It was a championship-level game," Everist said. "It obviously had implications in our conference for a regular season championship, so we're still on track. If we have a chance to win a national championship, which I think we feel we do, we have a lot of work to do. We are going to play some great teams in the next few weeks, and this is the energy and emotion that they are going to see, and you need to see it no matter how many high-level water polo games you have played."