Polo Falls To MPSF Rivals at Tourney





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Remember all those feel-good sports movies in which the team that loses earlier in the flick comes out and avenges that loss? With Queen's "We are the Champions" blaring in overly dramatic fashion in sync with the players hugging and crying as they celebrate the sweet victory, one can't help but think that that's the way it should be in real life.

Well, if one was expecting to be all teary-eyed over the Bears' performance in this weekend's Northern California Tournament at Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Pool, one might definitely have been weeping - only for the wrong reasons.

Instead of the No. 5 Cal men's water polo team coming out on top and avenging last week's loss to No. 1 UCLA, the Bears fell pretty hard in the eagerly anticipated semifinal matchup, 9-4. Cal then finished the tourney with an 8-7 loss in the consolation game against Stanford.

Perhaps the one good thing is that the tournament's matches don't count in the league standings.

Against UCLA, rather than coming out fiery-eyed and ready to take on the league's best, the Bears (8-7, 2-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) fell prey to the Bruins' offensive onslaught. The eventual tournament champions (14-2, 5-0 in the MPSF) scored seven goals before Cal even managed to sneak in one of its own.

"We didn't come out well against UCLA," Cal driver Adam Metzger said. "It didn't seem like we were playing an aggressive game, and it showed. If you do that against a No. 1 team, they're going to roll over you. We were down seven goals by the first half, and it made it hard to come back."

Cal's James Lathrop, Mike West, Andrew Stoddard, and Will Quist managed to find their way to the score sheet in the second half, but the Bears needed to more than double their output in order to contend with the Bruins.

In fact, Cal was one goal shy of what UCLA's tandem of Adam Wright and Brian Brown turned in for the day. The two senior playmakers combined for five goals, which they matched at Cal two weeks ago.

"(The Bruins) just came down every time and seemed to be able to put the ball in the cage," Lathrop said. "They were counterattacking us hard and we just couldn't score on them."

While the third-place game was a lot closer, the Bears still couldn't manage to seal the victory.

In a bit of tug-and-war, Stanford (9-7, 1-4 in the MPSF) and Cal kept the game going back and forth, with neither team holding more than a two-goal advantage throughout the entire match.

"We played a lot better against Stanford," Metzger said. "We didn't put away some of our opportunities and we had a couple mental errors, but it was a close game. One shot we didn't put away or one shot we allowed them would've made the difference in the game."

Both teams had a fairly balanced attack, with five different players scoring for the Bears - led by senior driver Eldad Hazor's three goals - and seven different players scoring for the Cardinal.

After taking a 3-2 lead following the first quarter, the Bears fell behind, 5-4, at the half. Entering the fourth quarter, the score was knotted at six apiece, but the Cardinal got the better of the chances, as it scored two goals to the Bears' one.

Cal fared better in Saturday's two matchups. The Bears smoked Cal Baptist, 17-5, in a game that featured 11 different scorers for Cal. UCSD also fell to the Bears, 9-6, with Cal driver Joe Kaiser leading the offensive drive with three goals.

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