No. 2 Bears Pull Away From No. 12 Princeton

BERKELEY – Freshman Roberto Valera scored a career-high six goals and junior Garrett Dunn added two goals and three assists as the No. 2 Cal men’s water polo team defeated No. 12 Princeton 15-11 on a rainy evening at Spieker Aquatics Complex on Wednesday.

The undermanned Bears fell behind 11-10 with 6:11 to play but closed the game with five unanswered goals, with three coming from Valera.

Cal played the game without All-American Jack Deely and most of it without reigning MPSF Player of the Year Nikolaos Papanikolaou.

“We needed guys to step up and guys were ready to step up,” Cal head coach Kirk Everist said. “We have a deep team and we needed to rise to the occasion. They found ways to pull it off.”

Freshman Max Casabella had two goals and an assist for the Bears (17-2) while junior Jake Stone also added two assists.

Cal led 8-6 at halftime but the Tigers scored the first three goals of the third quarter to take the lead. Valera led the comeback, scoring five of his six goals in the second half.

“He kind of got off to a bad start but he kept plugging away,” Everist said. “A guy who can shoot like that will get his opportunities. He missed a few early on but didn’t stay frustrated. That showed some maturity.”

Papanikolaou entered the game with 1:06 left in the third quarter and scored the final goal of the contest with one second remaining.

The Bears are now off until they host No. 5 Long Beach State on Oct. 30.

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