#4 Men's Water Polo Topped By #2 Cal

Photo courtesy of Meghan Laurel Photography
Photo courtesy of Meghan Laurel Photography

Stockton, Calif. - The No. 4 Pacific men's water polo team was topped by No. 2 California in a high-energy non-conference matchup under the lights at Chris Kjeldsen Pool Sunday, 14-10.

Aleksandar Petrovic, Engin Ege Colak, Luis Araya and Devon Thumwood each scored twice for Pacific, while Kale Ai and Tim Reeves also scored for the Tigers.

Johnny Hooper (4 goals) and Odysseas Masmanidis (3 goals) led the offense for Cal.

The high octane match featured 24 goals, 25 exclusions, two misconducts, a bench red card, and end to end action to match the electric atmosphere at Kjeldsen Pool.

Lazar Andric recorded 13 saves in goal for Cal, while Alen Osmanovic tallied 14 in the loss.

Pacific falls to 14-5 on the season, with all five losses to teams ranked in the Top 3 of the CWPA Top 20. Cal improves to 15-2 on the year.

Cal opened to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Connor Neumann on the first possession. The Tigers answered with back-to-back goals from Thumwood on the power play and Petrovic off a pass from Saito for a 2-1 lead. Hooper finished an outlet pass from goalie Lazar Andric with a skip shot to tie it at 2-2. Araya ripped a shot home from four meters out to put Pacific back in front, but Masmanidis grabbed his own rebound and finished to knot the game back at 3-3.  Luca Cupido tallied a goal off a cross-pool pass as Cal went up 4-3 after one quarter.

The Bears extended the lead in the second as Hooper scored on a cross-cage finish. Petrovic answered back, accepting a pass from Thumwood and putting into the far side to pull the Tigers within 5-4. Hooper tallied in transition after the Tigers were called for an exclusion trailing the play, leading to a breakout. Osmanovic got a piece, but the skip shot trickled in for a 6-4 Bears lead. Thumwood tallied on the power play, as out of a timeout Osmanovic hit him in space and he finished to the short side to cut the lead in half. Reeves drew Pacific even with a goal into the open right side after Derek Clappis set him up in the middle with space.

In the third, Thomas Carroll scored on Cal's first possession, and Masmanidis followed with goal from the two-meter for an 8-6 lead.

Araya brought the Tigers within one, and brought the crowd to its feet with a spinning backhand goal from five meters away across to the far panel for a Pacific goal and a strong contender for any collegiate water polo highlight reel.

However, after Andric made a save, he fed Nicholas Carniglia in transition for a Cal goal and a 9-7 Bears lead. Safak Simsek stretched the lead to 10-7 off a pass from Connor Reid with 4:44 to go in the quarter. Colak tallied off a Thumwood assist, bringing the Tigers within two, but a breakaway goal by Hooper provided a three-goal lead and gave Cal control.

Luca Cupido opened the fourth quarter with a goal to stretch the lead to 12-8, and De Nardi put home a rebound for Pacific. But Pedro Stellet juked and finished from the middled for a four-goal lead and Masmanidis tacked on with 3:03 to go, lobbing it over a charging Osmanovic and the ball floated casually across the line before it could be chased down. Ai rounded out the scoring in the final Pacific possession to settle on the final margin.