Polo Hopes to Splash into Postseason

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Tomorrow, while most Cal fans are still sleeping, partying, or getting ready to make their way up to Memorial Stadium for the Big Game, a game of even bigger proportions, and with better teams, will be taking place at Speiker Aquatic Center at 10 a.m.

Unlike its football counterpart, the Big Splash will feature two teams gearing up for post-season play.

The No. 4 Bears (13-8 overall, 5-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) and No. 5 Stanford (11-11, 2-6) have played each other three times this year, the Cardinal recording two wins in the three meetings. This, along with the fact that next week marks the beginning of the MPSF tournament, makes tomorrow's game very important to Cal.

"The Stanford game is really important to us," Cal coach Peter Asch said. "It's big in terms of momentum going into the tournament and it's big because it's Stanford."

The game is marked as the Steve Heaston Memorial Game, named for Cal's head coach prior to Asch. Heaston passed away almost two years ago after a bout with cancer. For the seniors and juniors on the Cal squad - Heaston's last recruiting class - this makes the game even more important.

"It's a non-conference game so it won't affect the standings," Cal senior Adam Metzger said. "But if anything, it's a game of pride for us. It means a lot to us and we want to win."

Not to mention the fact that this will be the last game that the Cal seniors play in their home pool. Metzger, along with James Lathrop, Jerry Smith, Eldad Hazor, and Eric Johnson have spent most of their collegiate careers practicing in other pools and watching as Speiker Aquatic Center went through a complete makeover. Now, for their last home game, the pool is in great condition and the team is as confident as ever.

"We just have to play as a team going into the tournament and we'll be fine," Asch said. "It's been a team thing all year. We're confident in both goalies and in whoever we put in the pool."

But behind all of this - the much-needed momentum for the tournament, the Heaston trophy, and the sense of pride - runs a much deeper emotion that should be enough all by itself to get the Bears ready to play tomorrow -hatred.

As Metzger put it, "Going to Cal you are bred to hate Stanford."

This game is as big to the water polo players as any they will play this season. It's as big to their fans as Big Game is to anyone who will be at Memorial Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

Last week, Metzger aggravated an old injury and had to sit out some game time and some practice time. But when asked if he would play this weekend, his answer was enough to prove just how much this game means to the Bears.

"God couldn't keep me from playing this weekend," Metzger calmly said.


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