Nov. 9, 2011
Fri., Nov. 11 Pacific, Spieker Aquatics Complex Berkeley, Calif. 5 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 at UC Davis, Schaal Aquatic Center Davis, Calif. 10 a.m.
No. 3 Cal (17-3, 5-1) continues its quest for the program's 14th national title when it hosts No. 7 Pacific (11-9, 1-4) in an MPSF contest Friday (Nov. 11, last regular season home match for 11 seniors on Senior Night) at 5 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex, and then travels to UC Davis for a non-conference tilt Saturday (Nov. 12) at 10 a.m. With only three regular season matches left, including the Big Splash Nov. 19 at Stanford, the Golden Bears are looking to finish strong for a high seeding at the Nov. 25-27 MPSF Tournament at UCLA. The winner of the MPSF Tournament is anautomatic qualifier for the 2011 NCAA championship, Dec. 3-4 at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears' three losses this season have all been by one goal (6-5 to No. 1 UCLA Sept. 18, 10-9 in overtime to No. 4 Stanford Oct. 2, and 9-8 in sudden death overtime to No. 2 USC Oct. 15). Conversely, Cal also has victories over both top-ranked UCLA (8-4 Oct. 2 and 8-5 Oct. 7) and Stanford (8-7 Sept. 18). The Bears feature the 2010 National Player of the Year Ivan Rackov, who leads the MPSF in scoring with 57 goals in 19 matches (3.00 gpg). Cal also leads the MPSF in team scoring with 12.65 goals per game, and are third behind USC and Stanford in team defense (6.00 gpg). The Bears have outscored their opponents, 253-120, this season. On Sept. 5 Rackov was this year's first MPSF Player of the Week with 12 goals in Cal's Sept. 3 home victories over UC Davis and Santa Clara, and was the Oct. 24 conference POW with four goals in an 11-8 win over No. 6 Pepperdine. The Bears' junior goalie, Justin Parsons, was tabbed as the Oct. 10 MPSF Player of the Week after tallying 26 saves in MPSF wins at current No. 1-ranked UCLA and Long Beach State, and a victory at No. 10 UC San Diego.
Returning Cal All-Americans/Top Newcomers:
Along with Rackov, the Bears return five All-Americans from the 2010 national runner-up squad that finished 24-4 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation - seniors Cory Nasoff, Charlie Steffens and Luka Saponjic, and junior goalie Parsons. Cal also has newcomer Ayal Keren, a 6-2 junior utility from Tivon, Israel who was the California JC Player of the Year at Diablo Valley College, and 6-3 freshman attacker Aleksa Saponjic, who joined brother Luka on the Serbian National Team that won the gold medal at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzen, China.
Bears' 2011 Scenerio:
Rackov now has 222 career goals, second on the Bears' all-time scoring list behind Chris Humbert's 296 goals from 1988-91...Luka Saponjic is second on the team with 35 goals (seventh in MPSF, 1.94 gpg), while his brother, Aleksa, is third on the squad with 24 goals in 17 matches...in 2011, the Bears look to capture the national championship for the first time since upending USC in the 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6) title matches...the Bears have more collegiate titles (13) than any other team in the nation...in 2010, Rackov became the first Cal player named the winner of both the Collegiate Water Polo Coaches and the Peter J. Cutino Player of the Year awards, leading the Bears with 79 goals, 82 assists and 70 steals...Rackov was also first-team All-American, first-team All-NCAA Tournament, first-team All-MPSF and first-team MPSF All-Tournament...Nasoff was a third-team All-American and second-team All-NCAA Tournament selection in 2010 after tallying 28 goals and 24 ejections earned, and this summer was a member of the USA National Team that was fourth at the WUG...Parsons was also a third-team All-American last year after notching 197 saves, including 21 saves in the two NCAA tournament matches...Parsons currently has 163 saves in 17 matches in 2011...
Noting Pacific and UC Davis:
No. 7 Pacific (11-9, 1-4) is coached by James Graham (fourth year, ) and led by sophomore Balazs Erdelyi with 45 goals in 19 matches (2.37 gpg, fourth in MPSF). The Bears have topped the Tigers twice this season (8-6 in a non-conference match in Stockton, and 11-9 at the SoCal Tournament). No. 12 UC Davis (20-9) is coached by former Cal player and assistant women's coach Steve Doten (1986-88).
Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 10th year with a 219-61 mark (.782), leading the Bears to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, and MPSF titles in 2002 and 2006. He was 2006 NCAA and 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year. As a player, Everist won NCAA titles in 1987 and 1988, earning All-America (1986-88) and NCAA Player of the Year (1988). He played for Team USA for nine years (1988-96), competing in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Everist NCAA.com Interview.