Men's Water Polo: Bears Get Pair of Important Road Wins

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The Cal men's water polo team left Southern California like bandits, stealing a pair of victories and avenging prior defeat.

The No. 5 Bears (9-3, 2-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), survived a scare from No. 9 Long Beach State (8-3, 1-1) with a 5-4 win, then got back at No. 3 USC (12-4, 2-1), 5-3.

The two road games were important conference matchups for the Bears, who had dropped their first MPSF game to Pacific.

The two wins gave the team a 2-1 record and advanced them to fifth in the conference.

With the top nine teams in the nation all in the MPSF, the Bears knew they couldn't afford to fall off the pace early in the conference season.

"It was a big step for the team to go out on the road and win both of the games," junior goalkeeper Tim Kates said. "Picking up the two W's has shown ourselves what we are capable of."

Cal is now on a four-game winning streak and hopes that the momentum will carry the team through the upcoming difficult opponents of the season.

"It's always good to bring positive momentum to matches against challenging teams," senior Peter Conte said. "Continuing with it is what brings success."

The Bears certainly had momentum on their side this weekend in two solid performances that led to the two wins.

Cal got a surprisingly close game from LBSU and had to survive a fourth-quarter rally.

The Bears got off to a good start against the 49ers, with a 5-1 lead going into the fourth quarter.

But LBSU would make a game of it in the quarter, scoring three consecutive goals to up the score to 5-4.

With the 49ers in possession and 22 seconds left on the clock, LBSU had the opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime.

But with one crucial steal, Cal stole their 49ers' hopes and the game.

"They did give us a little bit of a scare by making it so close," Kates said. "But our defense was solid so we weren't too worried."

Kates stopped most of what his defenders couldn't, with eight saves.

The Bears continued their run the next day against USC, handing the Trojans their first conference loss of the season.

Cal came out strong in the first half, outscoring USC 2-1. The second half saw the Bears continue to keep the Trojans at bay, only allowing them to score two goals and answering with three of their own.

The 5-3 victory was a sweet one for the Bears, avenging their triple overtime, 8-7 loss from the previous week's NorCal Tournament.

"We felt that we outplayed them the week before, but they just outscored us," Conte said. "This game was the chance to show them that we could both outplay and outscore them."


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