Aug. 24, 2011
SHENZEN, CHINA - Two members of the 2011 California men's water polo team, brothers Luka and Aleksa Saponjic, led Serbia to an impressive 11-8 victory over Russia in the gold medal match Tuesday (August 23) at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzen, China. The 6-5 left-handed senior Luka scored one goal and added two assists in the title match, while Aleksa, who be an incoming freshman for the Golden Bears this fall, added an assist for Serbia in the championship. Luka ended the tournament with 10 goals and six assists, and Aleska, a 6-3, 205-pounder, tallied six goals and led the gold medalists with nine assists.
Cal was also represented on the United States National Team at the WUG with Bear associate head coach Boyd Lachance on the bench and 6-3, 200-pound senior attacker Cory Nasoff in the water. Team USA fell in the bronze medal match to Macedonia, 10-7, Tuesday. Nasoff ended the tournament with two goals and two assists for the Americans.
Showing a glimpse of things to come earlier in the WUG, Luka (five goals and one assist) and Aleska (two goals and one assist) had combined for seven goals and two assists in Serbia's semifinal win over the eventual bronze medalist Macedonia.
"The World University Games was a tremendous experience and we were very proud of our team's effort" said Lachance of his Team USA squad. "Cory played very well for us, and Luka and Aleksa helping Serbia take the gold was great to watch. We are all looking forward to getting back to Berkeley and starting the season."
The Cal men's water polo team, lead by head coach Kirk Everist, finish 24-4 overall and a perfect 8-0 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation last season and advanced to the national title match before falling to USC, 12-10, in the NCAA championship at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears, returning 2010 National Player of the Year Ivan Rackov as well as Saponjic, Nasoff and fellow returning All-Americans Justin Parsons (6-6 junior goalie) and Charlie Steffens (6-1 senior attacker), will again host the NCAA championship, Dec. 3-4 at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
The 2011 edition of the Cal men's water polo will begin the season, Saturday, Sept. 3 when the Bears host the Cal Bear Invitational, taking on UC Davis at 9 a.m. and Santa Clara at 4:30 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Other matches of the Cal Bear Invitational on Sept. 3 include Pacific versus Santa Clara at 10:30 a.m. and Pacific versus UC Davis at 3 p.m. The Bears will host a scrimmage versus Pacific beginning at noon Sunday, Sept. 4.
Cal's 2011 squad is ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association preseason poll and is tied with USC for first place in the MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Bears will be attempting to win their NCAA-record 14th national men's water polo title in 2011.