Men's Water Polo: Bears Extend Win Streak to Four, Sweep SoCal Trip





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While the Giants and the Angels were playing to decide the World Series Sunday, the Cal men's water polo team was on a bus ride home from its second Southern California swing.

Having only the radio to listen to, and with loyalties divided between the two California teams, the atmosphere on the bus got raucous in a hurry.

With all the insults and trash-talking, you could hardly recognize the unified team that managed to return home with two wins.

After working hard all weekend to defeat No. 12 UC Santa Barbara and No. 7 Loyola Marymount, it was only natural that the No. 3 Bears (13-4, 3-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) wanted to take their minds off themselves and indulge in a little friendly rivalry.

Cal beat the Gauchos (6-11, 0-4 MPSF) 12-3 Saturday, and continued its run the next day against the Lions (11-12) with a 9-3 win.

"Our team played really good defense these two games," Cal co-captain Chris Lathrop said. "That has become a staple of the team this season."

The Bears have held each of their last seven opponents to four goals or less.

Cal has also found the back of the net a total of 58 times in its last four matches, and has improved on capitalizing in six-on-five situations.

"(Coach Everist's method) is a step-by-step process," two meter Greg Panawek said. "It's really given us confidence to see our improvement."

Junior goalkeeper Tim Kates filled in for Russell Bernstein, who was being rested, and made 10 saves in the two games.

The two wins mark the Bears' second four-game winning streak this season, a mark that will be on the line against No. 1 Stanford Saturday.

"We really have to focus on executing the small things, like the six-on-fives, because those are the things that win contests with narrow margins," Lathrop said.

The last time it went into a game having won four straight, Cal failed to capitalize on six extra-man opportunities in a 4-3 loss to then-No. 2 UCLA.

That offensive inefficiency doomed the Bears to a loss despite holding UCLA to only four goals.

They showcased the same defensive prowess again this weekend, and were able to get the ball in the net.

Cal kept UCSB scoreless for the first three quarters of the game while building an 11-0 lead.

The Bears also got off to a quick start in the first quarter against LMU with four unanswered goals, two each from Lathrop and Attila Banhidy.

The pace slowed down as the Lions went goal-for-goal with Cal in the second and third periods, making the score 7-3 heading into the final quarter.

"The game was actually a lot closer than the score made it seem," Panawek said.

Cal managed two more goals by Panawek and Brian Rieben in the fourth quarter to claim the 9-3 victory. In the game, the Bears scored three times with the man advantage.

"We controlled the tempo of the games and got two important wins," Panawek said.

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