No. 3 Cal Men's Water Polo Travels to MPSF Tournament
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/23/2005

Nov. 23, 2005

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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BEAR BITES: No. 3-ranked Cal (19-6, 5-3), off a loss in the Big Splash last Saturday, prepares to travel to this weekend's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships at USC's McDonald Swim Center. The No. 5-seed Bears open up play against the No. 4-seed UCLA Bruins (19-7, 5-3). Cal has beaten UCLA in two of three head to head meetings this year (W 8-7 OT at the SoCal Tournament Sept. 19, L 7-4 at the NorCal Tournament October 8, and W 7-6 at Cal Oct. 16). The winner of the MPSF Tournament will get the automatic bid to the Dec. 3-4 NCAA Championship at Bucknell University. The last time the Bears won the MPSF Tournament was in 2002, when they finished as NCAA runner-up in coach Kirk Everist's first season. Cal is paced by leading scorer junior All-American John Mann (51 goals) and senior goalie Nate Bennett with 188 saves, each of whom received MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week honors Oct. 4 and Oct. 25 respectively. Besides Cal's three losses to No. 1 USC, the Bears' only other defeats were, 7-4, Oct. 8 at No. 5 UCLA, 8-6, Oct. 29 to No. 6 Pepperdine at Spieker Aquatics Complex, and, 7-4, Nov. 19 at No. 2 Stanford.

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; 188 saves in 2005; third in MPSF with 5.48 goal against average; 499 career saves; member of USA Senior National Team. Brian Kinsel, center, JR - 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 23 goals in 2005; 92 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 - 18 goals in 2005; member of USA Senior National Team.

MPSF CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE: The MPSF Tournament, hosted by Stanford, features eight teams ranked in the Top 20 poll - No. 1 USC (21-1), No. 2 Stanford (17-5), No. 3 Cal (19-6), No. 4 UC Irvine (17-10), No. 5 UCLA (19-7), No. 6 Pepperdine (17-9), No. 7 Pacific (18-12) and No. 9 Long Beach State (17-15). On Nov. 25, Cal will face UCLA at 10:00 a.m. If the Bears win, they will play the winner of the USC-Long Beach State match at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26. If Cal wins that match, it will play in the tournament championship at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. The Bears have a 10-5 record against the MPSF Tournament field this season

CAL HISTORY AT THE MPSF TOURNAMENT: The Bears have won the MPSF Tournament four times since its inaugural season in 1992. Cal won the conference title in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 2002. The Bears advanced on to win the NCAA title in 1992 and placed second in 1995 and 2002.

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.