Bears Overcome Slow Start to Eviscerate Loyola Marymount

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The No. 1 Cal men's water polo team (16-2, 4-0 in the MPSF) extended its winning streak to eight last night with an 11-2 win against No. 9 Loyola Marymount (13-8) at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

The Bears, while technically in the pool the whole game, didn't show up to play until a few minutes before halftime.

The pace started out painstakingly slow, the first goal not being scored until 2:29 left in the first quarter by junior Ivan Rackov.

The Lions countered with the next two goals, claiming the lead 2-1 on a goal by freshman Mark Menis with 7:25 left in the second quarter. They probably wouldn't have guessed that would be their last goal.

The lead lasted for about five minutes before Rackov and Luka Saponjic each scored a goal within a minute to reclaim the advantage at 3-2 going into the half.

The low score and collective inability by both teams to convert on any of the five first half power plays can be explained by nothing other than sloppy play.

But oh, how the tides changed in the second half.

The inside passes began to find their target in senior Zach White, who scored four of his team's eight second half goals.

"(White) stepped up for us in the beginning of the third quarter when we needed a little bit of help, and we got a little space there," Cal coach Kirk Everist said. "They were running a really hard zone and we just weren't doing a good job of recognizing that. We did a better job of that in the second half."

Rackov also finished the game with four goals.

"You're going to have bad offensive days, but our defense kept up and played well," Everist said, addressing the sluggish first half and the Bears' conversion of only one of four power plays.

Yesterday's game was the first of three games this weekend. The Saturday and Sunday games against No. 6 UCSB (10-6, 1-2) and No. 8 Long Beach State (7-10, 0-4), respectively, are also at home. Unlike the LMU match, the upcoming contests are both conference games.

The Gauchos are responsible for a 12-10 upset over Stanford in the SoCal Tournament earlier this season.

UCSB Milos Golic earned the MPSF Player of the Week title two weeks ago, after notching a career-high tying seven goals in an 11-10 win over Long Beach. Golic follows close behind MPSF scoring-leader Rackov (over three goals a game) with 2.81 goals per game.

"We're going to have to concentrate on them, but not to the point where we're leaving other players," Everist said. "Focus on them when it's the right time and play good team defense, we know they like to run a lot through those players as we do through Ivan."

Tags: CAL MEN'S WATER POLO, KIRK EVERIST, ZACH WHITE, IVAN RACKOV


Byron Atashian covers men's water polo. Contact him at [email protected]



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