HIGHLIGHTS: Cal Rallies to Win National Championship

Punctuating a season of uncommon turbulence among men’s collegiate water polo programs, Cal won its 14th national title after upsetting top-ranked USC in the NCAA Championship match on Sunday.

The Bears remained close but trailed for much of the match and entered the fourth quarter trailing 5-3. Four goals in the final regulation stanza brought Cal even with the Trojans, 7-7, heading in to overtime. There the Bears’ defense stymied USC allowing one tally in the first of the extra periods while scoring four of their own to pull away for the win.

Cal, USC, and defending champions UCLA all rose to take the number one spot in the rankings during the 2016 season, the most variety in several years. UC Santa Barbara defeated Pacific to rise to the 4th ranking in November, then fell to surprise Golden Coast Conference tournament champions Pepperdine.

In the East, Harvard finished its most successful men’s season with a win over UC Davis in the NCAA Tournament play-in game. The Crimson fell to USC in its semifinal match. Bucknell ended its successful season with a championship in the new Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference, earning them an opening-round NCAA Championship play-in game against fellow easterners Harvard.

Sunday’s NCAA title is the first for Cal since 2007. Highlights and coverage from print and digital media to round out the story.

CHAMPIONS AGAIN: CAL WINS 14TH NATIONAL TITLE
For the 14th time in program history and with the weight of an entire Cal community behind it, the Cal men’s water polo team is national champion yet again.

Cal men’s water polo upsets UCLA, defeats USC in national title game
It was a historic weekend for the No. 3 Cal men’s water polo team — one that featured major upsets against the only teams to which it has lost and that ended in the Bear’s 14th national championship.

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Back on the Men’s Water Polo summit, Cal wins NCAA national championship after a thrilling 11-8 OT victory over USC
This is the 14th NCAA national championship for Cal Men’s Water Polo – the most of any collegiate program.

I’ve never won a championship here. I coached and lost one here and the next year we didn’t make it, so winning it here is something that I will never forget.  – Cal Head Coach Kirk Everest

USC falls in overtime in NCAA water polo championship game
The USC men’s water polo team saw a two-goal advantage melt away as host California forced today’s NCAA Championship bout into overtime. The Bears were the beneficiaries of some big goals in OT, crafting a lead with two goals in the final minute of the first overtime frame and pressing on to finish out an 11-8 victory and claim the 2016 national championship.

Men’s water polo misses championship but leaves accomplished legacy
The NCAA Tournament did not pan out the way UCLA men’s water polo wanted. Its finish was an ending that would have seemed unfathomable after a 24-0 start to the season.

Men’s water polo falls short again in NCAA championship match
For three quarters, the men’s water polo team kept a steady hand over Cal. Their lead wasn’t large, dipping from one point to two and back down to one. But heading into the fourth quarter of the NCAA championship on Sunday, the Trojans had a two-goal lead and a fresh dose of confidence.

USC lets water polo national title slip away against Cal
For the third time in as many years, USC was close enough to a national water polo title that the Trojans could see it and feel it.