Polo Comeback Falls Short Against No. 1 Stanford

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The No. 4 Cal men's water polo team made no tsunami this weekend at Southern California Tournament at USC, but it made some waves.

The Bears defeated No. 11 Pacific in their final match to clench a third-place finish, narrowly missing first place, as they were a goal short of beating No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals.

"(The tournament was) an overall good experience for the team," Cal coach Kirk Everist said. "It allowed the team to see the importance of things we've been trying to enforce during practices."

In the opening match of the tournament, Cal dominated No. 12 Navy, commanding a 9-4 lead in the first half of play. In the second half, the team added six more goals to eventually win the match 15-5.

After the rout, Cal was pushed to overtime by No. 6 UCLA. After a back-and-forth battle, the teams ended regulation in a 7-7 tie. Riding the wave of momentum in from its first-round victory, Cal went on to score four goals in overtime claiming a 11-8 second round win.

The two victories for the Bears on the first day of tournament competition placed them in a semifinal match against the top-ranked Cardinal.

Stanford came out strong in the first half, outscoring the Bears 5-2. Cal managed to make a run in the second half, edging the Cardinal 5-3. The Bears still came up short though, losing to the eventual tournament champions, 8-7.

"We gave them opportunities that they didn't necessarily earn," Everist said about the narrow loss to Stanford.

With the loss, Cal was sent to face the Tigers in a match for third place.

Despite Pacific's 6-4 lead in the first half, the Bears came out strong in the second half to regain the lead. They tied the score at seven by the end of the third period and scored two additional goals in the fourth quarter to secure the win and their top-three finish.

Everist said that the weekend matches acted as a good barometer for where Cal fits into the league, and what the team and the coaching staff need to work on in order to improve.

In three of the four matches of the tournament, Cal found itself trailing at the end of first half. And even while the Bears won two of the three matches they trailed in, the team was unable to muster a large enough comeback to win the match that could've sent it to the title.

"The team kept their calm and did what they needed to do in order to get back in the game," Everist said. "They created a mentality that they're not going to quit. That's the most impressive thing we gained from this weekend."

Cal will have an opportunity to test their new mentality as the Bears travel this weekend for a rematch against Pacific (3-1) Saturday in Stockton.


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