No. 6 Stanford men’s water polo (12-6, 4-5 MPSF) faced its third consecutive lost on Saturday as No. 3 Cal (18-3, 1-2) downed the Cardinal 11-10. This is the third game in a row that the Cardinal have lost by one goal to a higher-ranked team (the other two being UCLA and Pacific).
The two teams played in Berkeley at the annual “Big Splash,” which features the Bay Area rivals. The winner of the game receives the Steve Heaston Trophy as their prize.
Sophomore driver Blake Parrish continued his high-scoring tendencies with an early goal for the Cardinal, putting the first point on the scoreboard for either team. Less than a minute later, the MPSF Player of the Week, junior attacker Luca Cupido, scored Cal’s first goal, evening the score at one apiece.
The first quarter was coming to a close when Stanford earned a penalty shot, which was then blocked by Cal senior goalkeeper Lazar Andric. The Bears then followed this up with a goal by sophomore attacker Johnny Hooper, putting them up 2-1 at the end of the first period.
The second quarter saw some back-and-forth as both teams tried to gain the upper hand. Ultimately, sophomore utility Odysseas Masmanidis put one in for Cal off of an assist by Cupido. With a sense of increasing urgency, Stanford junior driver Cody Smith responded with a goal with less than seven minutes left in the half.
The teams then traded goals again as the half came to a close. Junior defender/utility Nicholas Carniglia put one in for the Bears, only for their lead to once again be cut as Cardinal sophomore driver Nelson Perla-Ward scored another for his squad.
Then, with only 1:25 left in the half, Masmanidis notched his second goal of the game, setting the Bears up 5-3 for halftime.
This Cal momentum continued as the second half got underway, with two goals from Cupido, one goal from Hooper and a goal from Masmanidis in the third period. Both Cupido and Masmanidis had completed hat tricks at this point, and the team found itself ahead 9-3 against Stanford.
The Cardinal finally began to fight back, scoring to decrease their opponents’ lead by one, but Cal senior defender Thomas Carroll managed another point for his team, and their lead was back in place.
Stanford then rallied back with two: a penalty shot put neatly into the net and then a goal by freshman driver Bennett Williams, closing the Bears’ lead to 10-6.
With eight minutes left to play, the Cardinal found themselves down by four and ready to fire in as many shots as possible.
Unfortunately for Stanford, Cal sophomore attacker Vassilis Tzavaras found the net before any of the Cardinal players, putting Cal up 11-6 with 5:47 on the clock.
At this point, senior driver Sam Pfeil began a Cardinal attack, putting one in with 4:25 left. Parrish followed Pfeil’s goal up with two of his own. Smith managed another, putting the Cardinal in close range with a 11-10 disadvantage.
As the game came to a close, the Cardinal were once again unable to put the final goal in to tie the score, and ended up giving away the Steve Heaston Trophy with a 11-10 defeat.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu