Cal Coasts Past Pacific With Late Scoring Flurry

Emma Lantos/Staff

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The No. 1 Cal men's water polo team had a close call against No. 6 Pacific Saturday in Stockton, Calif.

It trailed 7-8 halfway through the fourth quarter before rattling off three quick ones to finish 10-8 and extend its winning streak to 12.

The Bears (20-2, 7-0 in the MPSF) went into the half leading by one goal with a score of 7-6 before they were held scoreless in the third quarter while the Tigers logged two goals to take the lead at 8-7. Pacific's freshman goalie Alex Malkis had three of his nine saves that quarter.

In the fourth, the Cal defense stepped up to turn the tables and hold the Tigers scoreless in the final stretch.

Senior Brian Dudley evened the score at eight goals apiece, finding the back of the net with 4:01 left.

Both of junior Zach Greenwood's goals come in the final minutes of the game to give his team the lead. His first was at 2:18 with the second coming less than a minute later at 1:31.

It is reassuring in a significant way for the Bears that Greenwood stepped up to seal the game in the end.

Because he generally is part of the supporting cast rather than the widely acknowledged and recognized threats on the team, his performance adds diversity to his team's offensive capabilities which will be a key in the postseason lingering on the horizon.

Juniors Cory Nasoff and Ivan Rackov each put two goals up on the scoreboard for their team in addition to Greenwood.

Cal limited freshman Balazs Erdelyi, the most prolific scorer for the Tigers, to only one goal in the match, but still had a large impact in the assist category, logging five.

The Bears had to pick their poison with him because pressuring him on defense opened up his teammates, allowing him to have a hand in six of his team's eight goals.

Pacific's Malkis also influenced the game to be as close as it was. He had the upper hand in the battle of the goalies against Cal's Justin Parsons, making nine saves to the latter's five. Malkis also snatched three steals.

Saturday was the third time the Bears beat the Tigers this season. They dominated 15-3 on Oct. 3 at the SoCal Invitational and squeaked by with a much smaller margin 11-8 on Oct. 22 at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Cal is winding up for the playoffs and only has one more match, the Big Splash against Stanford, before the postseason.

The Bears have already defeated their third-ranked Bay Area rival twice before in the season, once 11-8 at the NorCal Invitational and the other time 13-9 at the SoCal Invitational.

However, the Cardinal has ended up on top in five consecutive Big Splashes, hanging on to the Steve Heaston Trophy named for the former Cal coach.

Last year, the Bears dropped an 8-6 decision to Stanford before upsetting it in the MPSF semifinals.


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

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