USC Tops Cal In Tournament Final To Win MPSF Invitational

by SwimSwam 0

September 26th, 2021 NCAA/College Water Polo, Water Polo

Courtesy: USC Athletics

BERKELEY, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC men’s water polo team had the first and last words in a victorious effort in today’s MPSF Invitational title match, where the Trojans beat host No. 3 California 12-11 in an exciting final at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley. Ashworth Molthen broke ground on the offensive end to open things up, finishing with a team-high three goals for the Trojan cause. And goalie Nic Porter capped off an impressive performance in the cage with one final save to squash any Golden Bear hopes of forcing overtime. Porter would wind up with a whopping 14 saves in the championship win, which puts USC at 10-0 overall on the season.

The score was tied up seven times, with Cal holding one-goal leads on two occasions in the third frame before USC created some crucial breathing room in the fourth period. Cal had knotted things up at 8-8 early, but USC responded with a booming 6-on-5 finish from Carson Kranz off a feed from Jacob Mercep to go up 9-8. Then, Nic Porter stuffed a Cal 5-meter penalty shot to give the Trojans a huge lift.
Mercep catapulted a long-range strike through to make it 10-8, and then Porter notched another save against a Cal power play. On the attack again, Kranz found Jake Ehrhardt for a laser that gave USC its largest lead, up 11-8 with  3:45 to go. Cal would find a quick reply, only to see Hannes Daube get USC up on a 6-on-5 next.
He’d finish it off himself, taking a pass from Mercep and burying it to get USC ahead 12-9 with 3:05 on the clock. The Bears carved their deficit down to one less than a minute later, but the USC defense dug in for the final stretch. Two more Porter saves sandwiched a huge field block from Marcus Longton against a late Cal 6-on-5, and USC emerged victorious with the 12-11 decision.
NEXT: 
USC returns home to host Pacific in a nonconference clash at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 2) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
NOTABLES:
– With a goal each of the first three periods, RS JR Ashworth Molthen recorded his first hat trick as a Trojan today.
– With 14 saves today, SR goalie Nic Porter has now recorded 28 outings with double-digit saves in his USC career.
– Hannes Daube’s two goals today makes him the only Trojan to have scored at least twice in every game at the MPSF Invite.

MPSF INVITATIONAL (Berkeley, Calif.)

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#2 USC 12, #3 California 11
Sept. 26, 2021 | Berkeley, Calif.
USC   2 – 1 – 5 – 4 = 12
CAL   1 – 2 – 4  – 4 = 11
SCORING:
USC — Ashworth Molthen 3, Hannes Daube 2, Jake Ehrhardt 2, Marcus Longton, Wyatt Barker, Chris Sturtevant, Carson Kranz, Jacob Mercep.
CAL — Nikolaos Papanikolaou 3, Roberto Valera 2, Jack Deely 2, Max Casabella, Miles O’Brien-Schridde, Nikos Delagrammatikas, Warren Loth.

SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 14, Adrian Weinberg (CAL) 5.

Courtesy: Cal Athletics

BERKELEY – Seniors Jack Deely and Miles O’Brien-Schridde each registered four points and junior Nikolaos Papanikolaou earned a hat trick but the No. 3 Cal men’s water polo team fell to USC 12-11 on Sunday in the championship game of the MPSF Invitational at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Freshman Roberto Valera added a pair of goals for the Bears (13-1), who fell behind 12-9 with just over three minutes to play but staged a late comeback and had a chance to tie in the final minute.

The teams traded goals through the first three quarters before the Trojans reeled off three in a row to lead 11-8 with 3:45 left. After the teams traded goals, Deely converted on the power play with 2:39 left and Papanikolaou followed with his third of the game to make it 12-11 at the 2:13 mark of the fourth quarter. The Bears had a power play chance with 56 seconds left but couldn’t capitalize, and then got the ball back one last time but Deely’s shot in the final seconds was turned away by USC goalie Nic Porter.

Cal’s road to the championship game of the 14-team tournament included Saturday night’s 10-9 win over No. 1 UCLA. The Bears also defeated No. 18 Pomona Pitzer and No. 6 Long Beach State along the way.

Cal returns to action next weekend with road matches at No. 13 UC Irvine and No. 12 Pepperdine before getting a rematch at USC on Oct. 9.

Cal vs UCLA Recap

Courtesy: Cal Athletics

BERKELEY – In a tournament that should provide some clarity about the 2021 NCAA men’s water polo season, No. 3 Cal is proving it is clearly one of the elite teams in the nation.

The Bears advanced to the championship game of the MPSF Invitational with a pair of victories Saturday, including a thrilling 10-9 victory over No. 1 UCLA at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Earlier in the day, Cal also knocked off No. 6 Long Beach State, 13-7.

In handing the Bruins their first loss of the season, the Bears improved to 13-0.

Cal freshman Max Casabella had three goals and an assist against UCLA while junior All-American Nikolaos Papanikolaou added two goals and seven drawn exclusions.

The Bears broke a 5-5 tie midway through the second quarter with a goal by Casabella and a pair from junior Warren Loth to lead 8-5 at halftime. Cal extended to a 10-6 lead with 4:56 to play before UCLA mounted a comeback. The Bruins final score came with 28 seconds remaining, and the Bears were able to run out the clock.

Senior Jack Deely had four goals and two assists in the win over the 49ers while freshman Roberto Valera had three goals and an assist. Goalie Adrian Weinberg registered 11 saves.

Cal will meet No. 2 USC in the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.

Cal vs Pomona-Pizter Recap

Courtesy: Cal Athletics

BERKELEY – The No. 3 Cal men’s water polo team closed the first half on a 9-0 run and ran away with a 20-7 victory over No. 18 Pomona-Pitzer on Friday during the first day of the MPSF Invitational at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

After the Sagehens stayed close for the first half of the initial quarter, the Bears (11-0) exploded on offense while holding Pomona-Pitzer scoreless for 14 minutes, 29 seconds – a stretch that spanned from midway through the first period until there were just over six minutes left in the third. By the time the Sagehens scored again, Cal led 11-2.

Reigning MPSF Newcomer of the Week Roberto Valera continued his hot play with three goals and an assist while senior Jack Deely did the same. Miles O’Brien-Schridde also registered a hat trick.

Cal goalie Adrian Weinberg made 10 saves while only playing the first half.

The Bears went 4-for-8 on the power play and converted three penalty shots in the victory.

Cal will next face No. 6 Long Beach State on Saturday at Noon. The winner advances to the semifinals of the 14-game tournament.

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