Sept. 19, 2012
Sun., Sept. 23 at USC, McDonald's Swim Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif. 1 p.m.
In a match between top collegiate water polo powers, No. 4-ranked Cal (7-2), featuring 2012 Olympian Aleksa Saponjic, visits No. 1 ranked and four-time defending NCAA champion USC this Sunday (Sept. 23) in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest shown live at 1 p.m. on ESPNU (play-by-play Trey Bender and color analyst Wolf Wigo). The Golden Bears will be looking to get back on the winning track after falling to No. 2-ranked UCLA, 11-10 in overtime, and to No. 4-ranked and host Stanford, 9-8, last Sunday at the NorCal Invitational to finish fourth in the tournament. The last time Cal faced USC in Los Angeles, the Bears won, 12-9, Oct. 16, 2010, and in the last meeting in Berkeley, the Trojans upended Cal, 9-8 in sudden death overtime Oct. 15, 2011 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. This season, the Bears started 5-0 before their last two loses and have outscored opponents, 133-50. On Sept. 10, junior attacker Collin Smith earned MPSF Player of the Week honors (Smith MPSF POW release) after 19 goals with eight assists, seven steals and three field blocks in Cal's five victories at the Princeton Invitational. Smith joins Saponjic as returning All-Americans from the 2011 squad that finished 22-4 overall and 7-1 in the MPSF. Saponjic was an honorable mention All-American as a freshman with 30 goals, 22 assists and 18 steals. Smith was an honorable mention All-American as a sophomore with 26 goals, 20 steals and 28 assists, including match-winning goals in MPSF victories against UC Santa Barbara and Pacific.
Cal's 2012 Scenario:
In 2012, the Bears will look to avenge last year's 7-6 overtime loss to UCLA in the MPSF semifinals that knocked them out of the 2011 NCAA Tournament...of Cal's four losses last season (22-4), all were by one goal, including a 9-8 in sudden death overtime to four-time defending NCAA champion USC at Cal...in the last two years, the Bears have gone 15-1 in MPSF league play and were national runners-up in 2010...Cal has won more collegiate titles (13) than any other team in the nation, last upending USC for the 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6) NCAA titles...USC has won four straight titles since the Bears' 2007 win in the title match...Cal will be televised four times during the regular season with two matches on ESPNU (Sept. 7 at Princeton; and Sept. 23 at USC, 1 p.m.) and two matches on the Pac-12 Networks (UCLA on Oct. 6, TBA; and Stanford, Oct. 20, TBA, at Spieker Aquatics Complex).
Saponjic's Olympic Experience:
Aleksa Saponjic helped Serbia to a 12-11 victory over Montenegro in the bronze medal match of the London Olympics on Aug. 12. Saponjic became the first Bear to win an Olympic medal in men's water polo since Kevin Robertson and assistant coach Steve Heaston were members of the USA team that won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics. Saponjic, who as a freshman was an honorable mention All-American, helped Serbia to a 6-1-1 record. In the bronze medal match, Saponjic, the second youngest player for Serbia at 20, had a steal and won the sprint in the second and third quarters. He finished the Olympics with a goal in a 21-7 win over Great Britain on July 31, and won seven sprints with four steals, two block shots and one assist.
No. 1 USC (8-0), winners of the last four NCAA titles, is coached by Jovan Vavic (18th year) and led by junior Nikola Vavic with 26 goals (3.25 gpg, Sept. 17 MPSF POW). In 2010, Cal lost a 12-10 overtime heartbreaker in the NCAA title match at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Prior to the 2010 national championship loss, the Bears were 4-0 versus the Trojans in NCAA title matches (1983, 1987, 2006, 2007).
Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 11th year with a 234-65 mark (.783), leading the Bears to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, and MPSF crowns in 2002 and 2006. He was the 2006 NCAA Coach of the Year and 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year. A 1990 Cal graduate, Everist led the Bears to NCAA titles in 1987 and 1988, earning All-American status three straight seasons (1986-88) and NCAA Player of the Year honors in 1988. He played for the USA National Team for nine years (1988-96)and competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.
INDIVIDUAL CAL PLAYER NOTES:
12 Thomas Agramonte:
Freshman attacker who redshirted during the 2012 season...has 10 goals in nine matches with 11 assists, nine steals, two ejections earned and a field block...scored three goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational...had seven goals at Princeton with four assists, three steals and an ejection earned...led the Bears with four goals Sept. 8 versus Harvard.
8 Marin Balarin:
Senior attacker and team captain has scored 19 goals in nine matches (2.11 gpg) with a team-high 21 ejections earned, 10 assists, five steals and a field block...had five goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational...had a team-high four goals Sept. 8 against Bucknell...scored 19 goals in 25 matches last season with six assists, 11 steals, a field block and 28 ejections earned...was selected the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the team's most improved player and was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...scored goals against UC Irvine and Stanford in the 2011 MPSF Tournament...notched a team-high four goals Oct. 1 versus Santa Clara at the SoCal Tournament and a goal versus Stanford in the Nov. 19 Big Splash...has 46 career goals.
1 Michael Boggan:
Junior goalie had 53 saves in nine matches (206 minutes of action)...gathered 39 saves last weekend at the NorCal Invitational, including 11 saves in the semifinal match versus UCLA...also notched 10 saves Sept. 15 versus Air Force...had eight saves during the Sept. 8 Harvard match...has 64 career saves.
4 Mason Cox:
Senior attacker has nine goals in nine matches with 13 assists, seven steals, five field blocks and an ejection earned...had four goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational and had five goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational...also tallied a team-high eight assists at Princeton...has 25 career goals.
14 Giacomo Cupido:
Junior defender/utility has not scored this season but has eight assists, seven steals, two field blocks and an ejection earned...competed in two matches at the Princeton Invitational, tallying four assists, two field blocks, one steal and one ejection earned...last season played in 25 matches with 36 steals, 25 assists, 10 goals, eight field blocks and five ejections earned...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...had a goal against UCLA and two goals against Stanford in the 2011 MPSF Tournament...scored a goal against USC in the Oct. 15 MPSF match at Cal...has 19 career goals...is from Santa Margherita Ligure, Genova, Italy.
9 Hunter Gettelfinger:
Junior attacker has scored seven goals in nine matches with a team-high 13 steals along with eight assists, four ejections earned and three field blocks...scored three goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational...played in 24 matches last season with 28 steals, 16 assists, eight ejections earned, a team-high 10 field blocks and 12 goals...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...scored goals in 2011 MPSF matches versus USC, Long Beach State, Pepperdine and UC Irvine...has 33 career goals.
16 Mitchell Hamilton:
True freshman attacker has four goals in four matches at the NorCal Invitational with five steals, three assists and an ejection earned...notched two goals in the Bears' Sept. 15 victory over UC Irvine.
13 Luka Ivanovic:
Sophomore attacker has scored four goals in nine matches with a team-high five field blocks along with four assists and six steals...in 2011 had seven goals in 25 matches with 15 steals, two assists and six field blocks...was 2011 ACWPC All-Academic...scored two goals in an MPSF win at Long Beach State and a goal against UC Irvine in an Oct. 30 victory at Cal...is from Podgorica, Montenegro...has 11 career goals.
2 Blake Kelly:
Sophomore defender/utility has scored two goals in nine matches with six assists, four ejections earned, three field blocks and four steals...last season played in 25 matches with 20 steals, four assists, 11 goals, five field blocks and five ejections earned...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...had a goal against UC Irvine in the first round of the 2011 MPSF Tournament...scored goals in MPSF victories Oct. 7 at UCLA and Oct. 21 versus Pepperdine at Cal...has 13 career goals.
10 Colin Mulcahy:
Redshirt freshman attacker has 12 goals in nine matches with 10 ejections earned, nine assists, six steals, and two field blocks...had six goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational, including a team-high three goals Sept. 15 versus Air Force...had six goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational.
6 Matt Russell:
Sophomore center has nine goals in nine matches with eight ejections earned, seven steals, two assists and a field block...scored five goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational...had four goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational...has 12 career goals...redshirted in 2010.
11 Aleksa Saponjic:
Sophomore attacker has 11 goals in six matches with seven assists, five steals and three ejections earned...tallied eight goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational, including a team-high three goals Sept. 16 versus UCLA....had three goals in two matches at the Princeton Invitational with six assists and two steals...was third on the 2011 squad with 30 goals in 22 matches with 22 assists, 18 steals, nine ejections earned and six field blocks...earned 2011 honorable mention All-America honors as a freshman and helped his native Serbia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics...was also a 2011 ACWPC All-Academic selection...notched two goals against Stanford in the 2011 MPSF Tournament...led the Bears with three goals in the Nov. 19 Big Splash at Stanford...scored in all eight MPSF matches with a team-high three goals at Long Beach State and two goals apiece versus UC Irvine and USC...won a gold medal at the World University Games in the summer of 2011 along with older brother Luka, a standout at Cal from 2008-11...has 41 career goals.
15 Max Schell:
True freshman center has five goals in nine matches with 10 ejections earned, nine steals, three assists and a field block...had three goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational...added a team-high eight ejections at Princeton.
7 Collin Smith:
Junior attacker leads the Bears and is second in the MPSF with 29 goals in nine matches (3.22 gpg)...also has a team-high 14 assists and 14 steals with five field blocks and three ejections earned...scored 10 goals last weekend at the NorCal Invitational...was named the Sept. 10 MPSF Player of the Week after scoring 19 goals in five matches with eight assists, seven steals, three field blocks and two ejections earned at the Princeton Invitational...last season played in 22 matches with 26 goals, 20 steals, 28 assists, nine ejections earned and four field blocks, earning 2011 honorable mention All-America honors...scored three goals during the 2011 MPSF Tournament...nailed the match-winning goals in the Bears' MPSF victories at UC Santa Barbara and versus Pacific...also notched a team-high three goals versus Stanford during the Nov. 19 Big Splash...has 71 career goals.