No. 2 Cal Men's Water Polo Travels to No. 3 Stanford for The Big Splash
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/16/2005

Nov. 16, 2005


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Sat., Nov. 19	Stanford, Avery Aquatics Center, 1 p.m.

BEAR BITES: No. 2-ranked Cal (19-5, 5-2) will attempt to upend Bay Area rival Stanford for the second time this season, as the Golden Bears visit the No. 3-ranked Cardinal (16-5, 5-2) Saturday for the annual Big Splash and battle for the Steve Heaston Trophy (named after the former Cal coach from 1989-99, winner of three NCAA titles). The Big Splash will also be the final MPSF match of the season for the Bears before they travel to Los Angeles for the MPSF Tournament, Nov. 25-27 at USC's McDonald Swin Center. On Oct. 1, Cal defeated Stanford, 9-5, at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears and the Cardinal represent the best in collegiate water polo as the two schools have met seven times for the NCAA title, with Cal winning the national title over their Bay Area rival in 1984 (9-8), 1990 (8-7) and 1992 (12-11 in sudden death overtime). In all, the Bears have won 11 NCAA titles, and Stanford 10. Cal is in solid position to make a run for its first NCAA appearance since 2002 when Kirk Everist led the Bears to the NCAA final in his first season as head coach. Three of Bears' five losses have been one-point matches to No. 1-ranked USC - 8-7, in the semifinal of the SoCal Open Sept. 18; 9-8, in the championship match of the NorCal Open, Oct. 16 at Spieker; and 10-9 last Saturday at Spieker. In 2005, Cal has had two players - junior All-American John Mann (Oct. 4) and senior goalie Nate Bennett (Oct. 25) - garner MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week honors. The Bears have also performed well in the two major regular season tournaments, placing third in the SoCal Open and second in the NorCal Open. Besides Cal's three losses to No. 1 USC, the Bears' only other defeats were, 7-4, Oct. 8 at UCLA, and, 8-6, Oct. 29 to Pepperdine at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

CAL VERSUS THE CARDINAL: Led by Mann's four goals and outstanding goalie play from Bennett, the then-No. 3-ranked Bears defeated the then-No. 2-ranked Cardinal, 9-5, on Oct. 1. Cal had an impressive offensive and defensive attack. Besides Mann's four goals, junior Marty Matthies, sophomore Michael Sharf, junior Andrija Vasiljevic, sophomore Jeff Tyrrell and sophomore Mike Hayes tallied scores for Cal, and Bennett finished with nine saves. Cal has had 17 different players tally goals this season, led by Mann's 51 goals, Sharf's 30 goals, junior captain Brian Bacharach with 28 goals and Vasiljevic with 23 goals. As a team, the Bears are second in the MPSF with 10.38 goals per game, and third in the MPSF allowing 6.04 goals per game.

NOTING STANFORD: No. 4 Stanford is 16-5 (5-2 in MPSF), coached by John Vargas (fourth year), and led by senior Peter Varellars' 49 goals. So far this year, the Cardinal have placed second at the SoCal Open, falling to No. 1-ranked 6-5, in the final, and placed third at the NorCal Open with a 6-5 victory over defending NCAA champion UCLA. Last season, Cal was 1-2 versus Stanford, falling 12-7 in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament at Stanford, losing 12-7 in an MPSF match at Stanford, and defeating the Cardinal, 6-5, in The Big Splash at Spieker Aquatics Complex, capturing the Steve Heaston Trophy.

GOLDEN BEARS TO WATCH: John Mann, center, JR - Oct. 4 MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week; 2004 first-team All-American; 2004 first-team All-MPSF; team-leading 51 goals in 2005; fifth in MPSF with 2.22 goals per game; 133 career goals; member of USA Senior National Team. Andrija Vasiljevic, attacker, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; MPSF third team; 23 goals in 2005; 98 career goals. Marty Matthies, center back, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; considered the team's top all-around player and defender; 13 goals in 2005; member of USA Senior National Team. Nate Bennett, goalie, SR - Oct. 25 MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week; 2005 team captain; 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 179 saves in 2005; third in MPSF with 5.97 goal against average; 490 career saves; member of USA Senior National Team. Brian Kinsel, center, JR - 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 21 goals in 2005; 90 career goals. Brian Bacharach, attacker, JR - 2005 team captain; 28 goals in 2005; 94 career goals. Michael Sharf, attacker, SO - 30 goals in 2005, 52 career goals; member of USA Senior National Team. Tom Kurth, center, SR - 2005 team captain; 11 goals in 2005; 22 career goals. Shea Buckner, center back, FR - 17 goals in 2005; member of USA Senior National Team.

HEAD COACH Kirk Everist: Fourth year at Cal, 79-30 (.725). 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.

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.