Cal water polo advances to national championship

Cal water polo advances to national championship
December 5, 2010, 4:02 am
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Dec. 4, 2010

BERKELEY -- Senior center Zach White scored a goal with 2:41 left in the match to propel the Cal mens water polo team (24-3) to a 7-6 victory over Loyola Marymount (19-9) Saturday (Dec. 4) in the opening day of the 2010 NCAA Mens Water Polo Championship at Cals Spieker Aquatics Center. The Golden Bears, who had to come back from a 6-4 deficit in the third period, scored the final three goals of the match to pull out the win.Cal will next face No. 1-ranked USC (27-2), a 10-7 winner over St. Francis College (24-4) in the other national semifinal, for the 2010 national championship at 3 p.m. Sunday. St. Francis will play LMU at 1 p.m. in the consolation match. The match was a series of runs for both teams. The Bears junior standout Ivan Rackov scored first on a counterattack with 3:03 left in the first period, but the Lions responded on Albert Samuels inside goal with 3:03 in the opening quarter.LMU ran off the next two goals to open the second period on scores by Brian Flacks and Edgaras Asajavicius to take a 3-1 advantage, but Cal came back with three straight goals by freshman left-hander Max Bergeson, Rackov and senior captain Brian Dudley to lead, 4-3, at halftime.Then it was Loyola Marymounts turn to score three straight behind Samuels lob over Cal sophomore goalie Justin Parsons and back-to-back goals from Ikaika Aki.With the Lions leading 6-4 with the third period winding down, Cal turned the match around. Frosh Bergeson scored his second goal of the match with six seconds left in the third period to get the Bears within 6-5. Junior Cory Nasoffs goal with 3:50 left in the fourth period, in which he gathered in a loose ball just in front of the net to score, tied the contest at 6-6.Finally, White gave Cal its first lead since the end of the first half when he scored from two-meters on a strong inside move with a little more than two minutes remaining to put the Bears in the national title match and chance to win their NCAA-record 14th national mens water polo title.Besides two goals apiece from Samuels and Aki, the Lions received outstanding goalie play from senior Andy Stevens, who had 12 saves, including block a Rackov five-meter penalty shot in the second period.It was a great game, said Cal coach Kirk Everist. It certainly was afun game to watch, but maybe not for us because we were almost on the wrong endof it. The guys stepped up to make some plays at the end to get it done. Ithink those are the toughest games. We were maybe a little tight in certaincircumstances, but we had some really nice plays from some different people,which has been the beauty of this team.We had a couple goals from true freshman like Max Bergesonthat really helped us out. Max came in and really lit a fire underusgenerating offense and making Andy (LMU goalie Andy Stevens) start to honorour shots.
Courtesy Cal Athletics media services