LOS ANGELES – The No. 1 California men’s water polo team was defeated by No. 2 UCLA 12-10 in the MPSF Invitational first-place game on Sunday, falling for the first time in more than 10 months.
Entering the day on a 15-game winning streak, the Golden Bears (12-1) battled back to erase a four-goal deficit in the third quarter, tying it 9-9 on a nice backhand goal by the senior. Nikolaos Papanikolaou. It was the two-time Cutino Award winner’s 235th career goal, moving him into a tie with Ivan Rackov for No. 3 all time at Cal.
The Bruins (13-0) answered with goals on their final two possessions of the third. The Bears got a late power play goal from Marci Szatmary but was unable to close the gap in the final frame.
Max Casabella led Cal with four goals, heating up the third period by scoring three times in a span of 86 seconds. Goal keeper Adrian Weinberg finished with eight saves, two steals and one assist.
After Cal’s defense stopped one time on the Bruins 7-on-6, Weinberg ended the opening half with a spectacular buzzer-beater to send the Bears into halftime trailing 7-5. The long-of-the-pool shot was the first of Weinberg’s career at Cal.
The Bears are off next week before returning to action for their home opener on Oct. 7 at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in a rematch with UCLA.
No. 2 UCLA 12, No. 1 California 10
Cal 2 3 4 1 – 10
UCLA 3 4 4 1 – 12
Cal Goals: Max Casabella 4, Adrian WeinbergNkolaos Papanikolaou, Albert Ponferrada, Marci Szatmary, Nik Mirkovic, Jake Stone
UCLA Goals: Rafael Real Vergara 4, Jack Larsen 3, Hayden Nightingale 2, Marcell Szécsi, Ben Larsen, Noah Rowe
Cal Savings: Adrian Weinberg 8
UCLA Saves: Garrett Griggs 8