MPSF Water Polo Results, Nov. 4

Kevin Le Vine, California (Catharyn Hayne Photography)
Nov. 4, 2017

*California 6, USC 3

Recap by Cal Sports information

BERKELEY -- With No. 1-ranked USC in town, Senior Day festivities preceding the match and a raucous crowd lining the pool deck, the Cal men's water polo team didn't have to search hard for motivation before the final home game of the 2017 season.

But, for as locked in and ready as the Bears were prior to the match, the real excitement was yet to come as an incredible defensive performance, led by senior goalkeeper Kevin Le Vine, carried No. 2 Cal to a 6-3 victory over the Trojans in front of a joyous crowd at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

With one regular season match left to play, Cal (18-1, 2-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) already has a piece of history secured thanks to Saturday's result. The win capped a perfect 8-0 season at home, making the 2017 Bears the first to go undefeated in Berkeley since the 1992 team that went a perfect 31-0 and won the national title.

Playing USC for the first time since the 2016 NCAA championship match that Cal won in overtime to secure its 14th national title, the Bears welcomed the Trojans back to Berkeley for what would again turn into a back and forth battle. USC (21-2, 1-1) struck first, forging ahead with a goal by James Walters, and the Trojans took a 1-0 lead after one period.

Cal got on the board thanks to a Conor Neumann goal early in the second period and the Bears forged ahead just before halftime. Spencer Farrar made it 2-1 by slotting one directly between the arms of USC goalkeeper McQuin Baron and Farrar added another goal shortly thereafter as he took a perfect lob pass from Vassilis Tzavaras and converted to put Cal ahead 3-1 at halftime.

USC scored the first two goals of the second half to even the score but that was all the Trojans would get against a ferocious Cal defense and another standout performance by Le Vine. His save on a point-blank chance for the Trojans set the Bears up to re-take the lead as Johnny Hooper snuck one inside the mouth of the goal at the other end to make it 4-3 Cal with eight minutes to play.

An exclusion on Baron gave Cal a chance without USC's star goalie and the Bears added to their lead as Odysseas Masmanidis found the net for the first time to make it 5-3. Neumann finished the scoring with 40 seconds left and the Cal defense took it from there as the Bears held USC to its lowest goal output since a 6-3 loss to UCLA in 2015 despite having to play without star Luca Cupido, who missed the game due to illness.

"It's a big win," Cal head coach Kirk Everist said. "It's always a big win when 1 and 2 are playing each other and it's always a big game when it's a rematch of last year's national championship game in the same spot. Two great programs, two really strong teams. You don't really need to say much to get up for that."

Le Vine, who along with Nicholas Carniglia, Cupido, Neumann, Connor Reid and Pedro Stellet were honored before their final game at Spieker, showed again just how entrenched he is as one of the nation's top goalkeepers. He finished with 18 saves, seven of which came with USC on the power play, and grabbed one steal to lead the Bears.

"We have a very special senior class," Le Vine said. "We've been talking about it, making sure we're all on the same page coming into this game to make sure that we bring the younger guys along, influence them the way we can and pick everybody up."

Junior Johnny Hooper played a pivotal role for the Bears in several different facets of the game, finishing with one goal, three assists, three blocks and two steals. The Bears finished with seven blocks as a team.

Cal wraps up the 2017 regular season on Thursday when it travels to Stanford to take part in the annual Big Splash. That game will start at 2:30 p.m. and be televised live by Pac-12 Networks. Cal returns to Stanford from Nov. 17-19 to take part in the MPSF Championships.

*Stanford 7, UCLA 5

Recap by Stanford Sports Information

STANFORD, Calif. - Freshman Ben Hallock posted his 11th hat trick of the season to lead No. 4 Stanford to a 7-5 victory over No. 3 UCLA in an Mountain Pacific Sports Federation showdown at Avery Aquatic Center Saturday.

The victory, Stanford's 10th straight, sets up a big match with No. 1 California this coming Thursday at 2:30 p.m. PT at Avery Aquatic Center.

Hallock set the tone early in Saturday's win over UCLA, taking a feed from senior Cody Smith and punching home to put Stanford (16-3, 1-1) ahead with the score less than two minutes into the contest.

The Bruins (16-3, 0-2) used a pair of scores to jump ahead, before Blake Parrish connected on the one-timer off the feed from Sawyer Rhodes to tie it up.

Hallock found the back of the cage in the final seconds of the first half to put the Cardinal back ahead, 3-2, at the break.

Senior Connor Stapleton sliced one in the bottom left corner midway through the third period to give the Cardinal a two-goal advantage.

Hallock countered a Bruin score with a goal from two meters to put Stanford back up by two goals. The hat trick against UCLA increased his team-high season scoring total to 52.

Stanford and UCLA continued to trade scores, as senior Jackson Kimbell punctuated the win with a two-meter goal off a feed from Smith to give the Cardinal the 7-5 advantage with 2:49 to play.

Senior Drew Holland had another strong performance in the cage for the Cardinal, finishing with eight saves in the contest. He had a number of big stops, capping the day with a big save in the final minute to seal the win.