Cal to Meet Trojans in NCAA Final After Surviving Lions' Upset Bid

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At the end of the first day of the men's water polo NCAAs hosted at Spieker Aquatics Complex, everything went as expected. No. 1 USC beat No. 4 St. Francis 10-7 and No. 2 Cal edged by No. 3 Loyola Marymount 7-6.

While the end result was no surprise, the path that led there was somewhat surprising. The Bears trailed 6-5 as late as 3:50 left in the fourth quarter, when Cory Nasoff tied it up at six goals each.

Senior Zach White scored the go-ahead goal a little more than a minute later with 2:41 left and Cal successfully fended off any comeback attempts.

The Bears were visibly sloppy, sometimes dropping the ball when making quick passes and trying to force the ball inside when it was packed too densely, resulting in turnovers.

USC downed St. Francis' hopes of being the first ever team outside of California to advance to the NCAA championship game when they prevailed 10-7

While the Terriers hoisted a late 4-0 run to close the deficit to 9-7, a quick series of events turned the momentum back over to USC.

An offensive foul was called on St. Francis right before hammering a shot home, rendering it useless. The Trojans raced back on offense to score with 3:02 left in the match.

The turnaround marked a two point swing, making the score 10-7 for USC whereas it would've been 9-8 had the turnover not been committed.

This allowed the Trojans to use their remaining possessions to waste the clock as time ran out.

Play resumes Sunday at 1 p.m. with St. Francis against LMU and USC against Cal at 3 p.m.

The Bears have to step up the quality of their performance if they want to have a fighting chance to break the Trojans' championship streak.

USC has won back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009, currently seeking a three-peat.


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

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