Sept. 24, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. - The 2007 California Golden Bears have the toughest duty among all the water polo teams in the nation this season - repeating as national champions. But with five returning All-Americans - seniors Mark Sheredy, Michael Sharf, Jeff Tyrrell and Adam Haley, and sophomore Spencer Warden, Cal is fully loaded and ready for another title run. The Bears also showcase seniors Zac Monsees and Mike Hayes, who enter the year with 60 and 44 career goals, respectively; and junior Frank Reynolds, a key contributor last season who notched a goal against USC in the NCAA title match.
Sheredy, a first-team All-American and 2006 NCAA Tournament MVP, returns to man the goal, while Sharf, a 2006 honorable mention All-American, is Cal's top returning scorer with 48 goals last season (101 career goals). The Bears also return Tyrrell, a third-team All-American who knocked in the match-winning goal against USC in the national championship (fourth leading scorer with 41 goals in 2006, 61 career goals); Haley, a HM All-American who is one of Cal's best two-meter defenders; and Warden, a talented driver and defender who was an HM All-American and the 2006 MPSF and Daily Californian Newcomer of the Year.
Head coach Kirk Everist, named 2006 Division I Coach of the Year after leading the Bears both the MPSF and the NCAA title last year, gives his view of his 2007 Cal squad:
Calbears.com Give a general assessment of your team's prospects for success this season.
Everist: I am excited about the prospects for 2007. We will be a different team, with the losses from 2006, but our team has worked very hard and is focused on a new challenge. We return nine players who competed in the NCAA championship match, so we have players who know what it takes to be successful and we will be looking to them to lead the team this year.
Calbears.com What are the challenges the team faces being the defending NCAA champs?
Everist: Defending is a word I try to avoid. 2006 can't be taken away from the team, but we will face the best shot from every team. Coming back after a championship is a hard road. The team must work even harder and be even more focused. Every match will be a battle this year.
Calbears.com: Does this team have what it takes to repeat and why?
Everist: This is a team that can win a championship, but it will not be easy. We have the potential to be a very good defensive team and I believe that will be the key to our success. If we can develop into a consistent offensive team we will be a very good water polo team.
Calbears.com: Where does last year's NCAA title as a coach compare to the other accomplishments you've had such as winning two NCAA titles as a player at Cal?
Everist:Winning as a coach was very satisfying. It was a fantastic experience to see the team accomplish something they had worked so hard for.
Calbears.com: Talk about the team's strengths this season - are you deep offensively and defensively?
Everist:We are not as deep as we were last year, where we played 12 to 14 players every match. That could change as the season moves along, but we will have to see. We have the ability to be a very good defensive team with our depth at two-meter defender with All-Americans Jeff Tyrrell and Adam Haley returning, Spencer Warden coming off Junior World Championships and obviously having Mark Sheredy back in the goal will be the key our defensive presence.
Calbears.com: What are the biggest challenges this year's team faces? Replacing John Mann?
Everist:Losing John and Brian Kinsel will be a major challenge for our team. We have had them as our centers for four years. Trent Calder, Thomas Pearson and Brian Dudley are working very hard to get ready for this season and I have been pleased with their progress. We will be a different team at two-meters, but I am confident that our players will step up to the challenge.
Calbears.com Who will be the leaders of this year's team? Talk about each of those players in terms of what they bring to the squad.
Everist:Our Team Captains are Mark Sheredy, Adam Haley and Trent Calder. Mark is the key to our defense - as the goalie he needs to be the verbal and emotional leader of our defense. Adam is the backbone of this team. He is a quiet leader whose work ethic and toughness are the foundation of this team. Trent is a vocal leader and he keeps the team's spirits upbeat. We will also look to our other four seniors for leadership in and out of the pool (Michael Sharf, Mike Hayes, Zac Monsees and Jeff Tyrrell) will all be asked to provide experience and leadership as we move through the season.
Calbears.com: What type of impact do you envision the newcomers to have? Who could make a difference on this year's team that returns nine players from last year's NCAA championship match?
Everist:We will be looking at our incoming class closely to see what kind of impact they might have. Redshirt freshman Brian Dudley had a very solid spring and summer and we are looking to him to make an impact. Mike Sample and Scott Cruikshank will be sophomores and have made great improvements and will help our team.