Nov. 28, 2012
WOODLAND, CALIF. - The California Men's Water Polo Team (17-8), which made it to the finals of the 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, had three players - Marin Balarin, Aleksa Saponjic and Collin Smith - named to the 2012 MPSF All-Conference second team it was announced Tuesday (Nov. 27) by the league office.
Senior attacker and captain, Balarin was also named to the 2012 MPSF All-Tournament Team and finished the 2012 campaign third on the team with 41 goals in 25 matches. He paced the Golden Bears with 51 ejections earned, as well, and scored three goals and had 10 ejections earned during the MPSF tournament. Balarin ended his Cal career with 68 goals, and in 2011 was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the team's most improved player, and was selected ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic.
Saponjic, a sophomore attacker who won a bronze medal competing for Serbia at the 2012 London Olympics, was second on the team in scoring with 45 goals in 20 matches, including pacing Cal with four goals in the 11-9 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the MPSF tournament. He concluded the year with 28 assists, 17 steals, 12 ejections earned and five field blocks. As a freshman in 2011, Saponjic earned honorable mention All-America honors and was an ACWPC All-Academic selection.
Junior attacker Smith led the Bears in scoring this season with 61 goals in 23 matches (2.65 gpg, fifth in the MPSF) and had a team-high 31 assists, with 31 steals, 10 field blocks and 11 ejections earned. He scored three goals in Cal's MPSF first round victory over Pepperdine and was twice named MPSF Player of the Week during the regular season - Oct. 20 when he scored six goals in a Big Splash victory over Stanford, and Sept. 10 when he had 19 goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational. Smith was an honorable mention All-American in 2011 and currently has 103 career goals.
The Bears finished the 2012 season winning seven of their last eight matches, including upending No. 2-ranked UCLA, 12-9, in the MPSF tournament semifinal.