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California wins third straight men’s water polo championship

California wins third straight men's water polo championship



LOS ANGELES — Max Casabella netted five goals, Roberto Valera scored four times and California won its third straight men’s water polo championship with a 13-11 victory over UCLA on Sunday.

It was the 17th championship for the Golden Bears and the sixth for coach Kirk Everist. Cal did not beat the top-seeded Bruins (26-3) this season until it mattered most. Three of Cal’s five losses this season were to UCLA. The Bears have won three titles in a row three different times.

Valera and Casabella scored three first-half goals, Nikos Papanikolaou added a pair and Cal took a 9-6 lead into halftime. Rafael Real Vergara scored two goals as the Bruins had five different players find the net in the first half.

Valera and Casabella both scored in the third period to help the Golden Bears take a 12-6 lead at the 4:54 mark. UCLA answered with goals from Ben Liechty, Vergara and Giorgio Alessandria to cut the Bruins’ deficit to three heading to the final quarter.

UCLA struck first in the final eight minutes when Frederico Jucá Carsalade lobbed one over Cal goalie Adrian Weinberg. Casabella answered and Cal regained a three-goal lead with 5:09 left to play. Makoto Kenney had the final score with 3:19 left to get the Bruins within two.

Garrett Dunn and Nik Mirkovic also scored for the Golden Bears. Weinberg finished with 12 saves.

Garret Griggs saved nine shots in goal for the Bruins.

Cal and UCLA have met four times for the championship, with the Bears winning three of them.

Cal won three straight championships from 1973 to ’75 under coach Pete Cutino, beating UC Irvine in the final all three seasons. The Golden Bears won three in a row from 1991 to ’93 under Steve Heaston, beating Stanford twice and UCLA in the final.

UCLA has won 12 titles, including three of the first four.



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