Up Against No. 1, Water Polo Owns Avery Yet Again

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STANFORD -Tell the whole damn world this is Bear territory.

After Cal's recent history of upsets in Stanford's Avery Aquatics Center, it might be wise to consider a more proper name for the 2,500 capacity facility.

The No. 3 Bears (15-4, 4-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) beat the No. 1 Cardinal (18-3, 5-2) 9-8 last Saturday, trashing Stanford in its own pool for the second consecutive time. Those matches are the Cardinal's only losses at Avery in the last two seasons.

But with a large and vocal contingent of Cal fans present, the Bears felt right at home in the foreign territory across the bay.

"It was really great to have all the fans out here and cheering for us," goalkeeper Russell Bernstein said. "It really gets us going."

This matchup was of utmost importance to the Bears' chances of winning the MPSF conference.

The win gives Cal the same number of losses as the Cardinal. The Bears have a chance to tie the conference record with two remaining league matches against No. 6 Pepperdine and No. 5 UC Irvine.

They also will get a rematch with Stanford in the Big Splash on Nov. 23, although that match will not count toward conference standings.

The Cardinal will now have to work hard to secure the top seed for the MPSF tournament, with two other teams who have two losses and a matchup with USC Saturday.

Cal managed to play with poise despite the pressure and championship implications of the matchup.

"They played intensely but also calmly," Bears coach Kirk Everist said.

The win should help Everist's team improve its MPSF tournament seed and increase the possibility of a NCAA tournament bid.

"Winning against Stanford is really important because it puts us in a position to be first," Rob Arroyo said.

The relaxed Bears had an easy time controlling the rhythm of the game, never falling behind from the point when Greg Panawek opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

"It was good that we never trailed because you have to be in a different mindset for comebacks," two meter Panawek said.

Cal shocked the Cardinal by scoring first in the back-and-forth battle for control. The Bears answered every goal scored and led 4-3 at halftime.

Stunned Stanford came back 30 seconds into the third quarter with its strongest shooter Tony Azevedo to tie up the score.

The Cardinal continued its attempted comeback with a three-goal rally in the last minutes of the third quarter to tie the score 7-7.

"The boys really didn't let the momentum shifts get to them," Everist said. "They were still able to play a really good game."

Cal focused on the prize, and seniors Andrew Stoddard and Will Quist scored a goal apiece to regain the 9-7 lead.

Stanford launched another comeback rally, scoring a goal that narrowed the lead to one.

But a big save by Cal goalkeeper Russell Bernstein stopped the Cardinal's final attempt to score with less than five seconds on the clock, keeping the match out of overtime.

Cal extended its winning streak to six Sunday by defeating No. 20 UC Davis (14-11), 11-5.

The Bears took a commanding 4-0 lead within the first six minutes of the game.

Cal would steadily build its lead in the second quarter, notching three goals to up to the margin to 7-1 at the half.

Bears goalie Nate Bennett entered the cage in the second half, just in time for UCD's barrage of shots, which helped the Aggies outscore Cal 3-2 in the third quarter.

Vincent Bevins and Tom Kurth ensured the win for the Bears with a goal each in the fourth quarter.


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