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No. 2 Bears Hold Off No. 5 USC In MPSF Opener

Oct 15, 2022
Marko Valecic had a late goal to seal the Bears' victory.

BERKELEY – Sophomore Max Casabella scored four goals – including a pivotal score on a penalty shot with less than two minutes to play – and the No. 2 Cal men's water polo team held off No. 5 USC 14-10 on Saturday afternoon in its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener at a raucous Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Casabella's final goal gave the Bears (14-1, 1-0) a 12-10 lead with 1:40 to go after the Trojans had cut a three-goal deficit to one. Cal goalie Adrian Weinberg then came up with a key save on USC's ensuing possession, and a goal by senior Marko Valecic put the game out of reach for the Bears.

Fifth-year senior Jack Deely registered three goals and three assists while sophomore Roberto Valera had three goals and two assists.

Cal fed off an energetic standing-room-only crowd and raced out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Casabella, Valera and Nikolaos Papanikolaou during the first four minutes of the game. After the Trojans finally got on the scoreboard, Deely answered back immediately and the Bears extended the advantage to 5-1 early in the second quarter.

Cal still led 10-6 early in the fourth quarter but USC reeled off three straight goals to cut the deficit to a single goal with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

Deely scored again to give the Bears some temporary breathing room, but the Trojans closed to within one again.

Weinberg finished with 10 saves and Papanikolaou had six earned exclusions.

The Bears have now won both games they have played this season against the Trojans, who Cal defeated in last season's NCAA championship game. The Bears also beat USC at last month's Stanford Invitational.

Cal returns to action Thursday when it visits No. 6 Long Beach State at 5 p.m.

No. 2 Cal 14, No. 5 USC 10
USC 1 3 2 4 - 10
Cal 4 2 3 5 - 14

USC Goals: Massimo Di Matire 3, Ashworth Molthen 2, Carson Kranz 2, Luka Brnetic, Marcus Longton, Andrej Grgurevic
Cal Goals: M. Casabella 4, Valera 3, Jack Deely 3, Marko Valecic, Nikolaos Papanilolaou, Jake Howerton, Warren Loth.
USC Saves: Kyle McKenney 8.
Cal Saves: Adrian Weinberg 10.