No. 2 Cal Men's Water Polo Travels to SoCal Open
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  09/13/2005

Sept. 13, 2005


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Sat.-Sun., Sept. 17-18 at SoCal Open,
Anteater Aquatics Complex/Corona del Mar Pool,
Irvine, Calif. All Day

BEAR BITES: The No. 2-ranked California men's water polo team (4-0) will face its toughest test of the 2005 season when the Golden Bears travel to the SoCal Open in Irvine, Calif., taking on the top collegiate water polo teams in the nation. If Cal wins matches over Cal Baptist and either No. 7 UC San Diego or No. 11 UC Davis on Saturday, it likely will face No. 3-ranked USC on Sunday. The Bears should be strong contenders for the 2005 NCAA title, featuring returning junior All-America standouts John Mann (team-leading 60 goals in 2004), Andrija Vasiljevic (honorable mention All-American, 39 goals) and Marty Matthies (honorable mention All-American, 14 goals). The Bears also have senior goalie Nate Bennett, who recorded 216 saves in 29 matches last season, and junior attacker Brian Bacharach, the team's second leading scorer in 2004 with 48 goals. Mann, Matthies, Bennett, sophomore Michael Sharf and freshman Shea Buckner are all members of the USA Senior National Team Training Roster for the 2008 Olympic Games.

ABOUT THE SOCAL OPEN: The SoCal Open, hosted by UC Irvine, features 14 teams ranked in the Collegiate Top 20 poll. Group A consists of No. 1 UCLA, No. 8 UC Irvine, No. 9 Loyola Marymount and Bucknell. Group B includes No. 2 Cal, No. 7 UC San Diego, No. 11 UC Davis and Cal Baptist. Group C has No. 3 USC, No. 6 Long Beach State, No. 14 Pacific and No. 17 Redlands. Group D features No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 13 Navy and No. 12 UC Santa Barbara. On Sept. 17 at the Corona del Mar High School Pool, Cal will face Cal Baptist at 8 a.m., and if the Bears win, they would play the winner of UC San Diego and UC Davis at 1:50 p.m. If Cal wins both of its matches Saturday, it would play at 11:45 a.m. Sunday at UC Irvine versus the winner of Group C (USC, Long Beach State, Pacific, Redlands). If Cal wins that match, it will play in the tournament championship at 4:45 p.m.

BEARS COULD FACE MPSF FOES: Cal is off to a 4-0 start after defeating Bucknell (11-2), St. Francis (11-8) and host Navy (9-3) at the Navy Open, and topping Pacific, 8-5, last weekend in Stockton. The Bears have outscored their opponents, 39-18, but will likely face an MPSF foe for the first time this season if they advance to the SoCal semifinal. Mann leads Cal in scoring with 11 goals, including four goals in the Bucknell and Navy matches. Junior captain Bacharach is next on the scoring list with five goals and has a team-high seven assists, while senior goalie Bennett has 21 saves and a 3.47 goal against average.

GOLDEN BEARS TO WATCH: John Mann, center, JR - 2004 first-team All-American; 2004 first-team All-MPSF; 113 career goals. Andrija Vasiljevic, attacker, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; MPSF third team; 78 career goals. Marty Matthies, center back, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; considered the team's top all-around player and defender. Nate Bennett, goalie, SR - 2005 team captain; 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 332 career saves. Brian Kinsel, center, JR - 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 72 career goals. Brian Bacharach, attacker, JR - 2005 team captain; 71 career goals. Tom Kurth, center, SR - 2005 team captain; 11 career goals.

HEAD COACH Kirk Everist: Fourth year at Cal, 64-25 (.719). A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame and a member of the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame, Everist was named 2002 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year after guiding his alma mater to the MPSF title and first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1995 in his first year as head coach. A 1990 Cal graduate, Everist led the Bears to consecutive national championships in 1987 and 1988, earning All-American status three straight seasons (1986-88) and NCAA Player of the Year honors in 1988. He went on to play for the USA National Team for nine years (1988-96) and competed in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Everist's staff includes associate head coach Boyd Lachance, who is in his fourth season, and Sean Nolan, a 2000 USA Olympic goalie who is in his first season. Nolan was a two-time All-American at Cal, helping the Bears to the 1991 and 1992 NCAA titles.

KEY RECRUIT: Shea Buckner, center defender, FR - Villa Park HS (Villa Park, CA). Buckner was a first-team high school All-American, the 2004 CIF Division II Player of the Year and is a member of USA Senior National Team. Has tallied four goals.

IMPORTANT HOME DATES: Oct. 1 vs. Stanford. The Golden Bears host Bay Area rival Stanford in opening MPSF match of 2005. Oct. 15-16 Northern California Open. Cal hosts the 2005 NorCal Open, featuring the nation's top water polo teams.

DID YOU KNOW? Since its charter season in 1918, Cal has won a NCAA record 11 national titles, including twice winning three NCAA titles in-a-row (1973-75, 1990-92). The Bears have had 11 different players earn National Player of the Year honors, including current head coach Kirk Everist in 1988. From 1990-92, Cal amassed a record of 86-2 for a .977 winning percentage.