Sept. 10, 2007
BERKELEY, CALIF. -
Sat.-Sun., Sept. 15-16 NorCal Open, Berkeley, Calif. All Day
BEAR BITES: The No. 2-ranked Cal men's water polo team (6-0), the defending 2006 national champions and the winners of 11 consecutive matches carrying over from last season, will host the 16-team NorCal Open Sept. 15-16. Competition will be held all day at Spieker Aquatics Complex and the Bill Brown Aquatics Center at Miramonte High School in Orinda. The Golden Bears are 6-0 on the season after outscoring their opponents, 66-23, at the Navy Open, and, 38-10, last weekend when they won 21-7 at Pacific and 17-3 versus UC Davis. So far this year Cal has been paced by senior All-American Michael Sharf, who was the Sept. 4 MPSF Co-Player of the Week and has led the Bears in scoring in every match, recording 25 goals in six matches. Cal has also been bolstered by senior All-American goalie Mark Sheredy, who had 12 saves at Pacific, six saves versus UC Davis and blocked penalty shots against both the Tigers and Aggies last weekend. The Bears feature five returning All-America standouts this season - seniors Sheredy, Sharf, Jeff Tyrrell and Adam Haley, and sophomore Spencer Warden. Cal also showcases seniors Zac Monsees and Mike Hayes, who now have 68 and 49 career goals, respectively; and junior Frank Reynolds, a key contributor last season who notched a goal against USC in the NCAA title match. Sheredy, a first-team All-American and 2006 NCAA Tournament MVP, returns to man the goal, while Sharf, a 2006 honorable mention All-American, is Cal's top returning scorer with 48 goals last season (126 career goals). The Bears also return Tyrrell, a third-team All-American who knocked in the match-winning goal against USC in the national championship (fourth leading scorer with 41 goals in 2006, 66 career goals); Haley, a HM All-American who is one of Cal's best two-meter defenders; and Warden, a talented driver and defender who was an HM All-American and the 2006 MPSF and Daily Californian Newcomer of the Year. This season, the Bears will be hosting both the NorCal and MPSF Tournaments (Nov. 23-25) at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
ABOUT THE NORCAL OPEN: The NorCal Open features 15 teams who are ranked in last week's Collegiate Top 20 poll. Bracket A consists of No. 1 USC, No. 9 Long Beach State, No. 11 UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz. Bracket B includes No. 2 Cal, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, No. 12 Loyola Marymount and No. 18 Air Force. Bracket C has No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 Pepperdine, No. 8 UC Davis and No. 17 Santa Clara. Bracket D features No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 UC Irvine, No. 10 Navy and No. 16 Pacific. On Sept. 15 at Spieker Aquatics Complex, Cal will host Air Force at 8 a.m., and if the Bears win, they would play the winner of Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara at 2:40 p.m. If Cal wins both of its matches Saturday, it would play at 12 p.m. Sunday at Spieker Aquatics versus the winner of Bracket C (UCLA, Pepperdine, UC Davis, Santa Clara). If Cal wins that match, it will play in the tournament championship at 5:20 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears last captured the NorCal Tournament in 2003 when Cal upset then-No. 1-ranked USC in overtime in the semifinals and upended No. 2-ranked and host Stanford in sudden-death overtime. The last time the Bears hosted the NorCal Tournament was in 2005 when Cal fell to USC, 9-8, in the tournament final. In 2006, the Bears were tipped by the Trojans, 10-7, in the NorCal championship at Stanford. Complete bracket and results of the NorCal Open will be available on the men's water polo page on www.calbears.com.
NOTING CAL'S NORCAL OPPONENTS: The Bears will begin the 2007 NorCal Open versus Air Force, a team Cal defeated 10-4 and 18-4 last year at the Air Force Open in Colorado Springs, Colo. If the Bears make it to the semifinals, they will likely face No. 3-ranked UCLA, a team Cal defeated three times last year - 8-6 at the SoCal Open, 8-7 in an MPSF match at Spieker Aquatics Complex and 8-5 in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament in Irvine.
BEARS ROLL VERSUS PACIFIC AND UC DAVIS: Cal had strong performances against two schools from the Central Valley, defeating Pacific, 21-7, and UC Davis, 17-3. Against the Tigers, sophomore center Thomas Pearson (6-4, 220-pounder from Corona del Mar High School) had a match-high three goals and three ejections earned. It was Pearson's top match of his college career after redshirting in 2005 and sitting out the 2006 season with an injured right shoulder. Another notable effort against Pacific, besides three goals apiece from Pearson and Sharf and Sheredy's 12 blocks, were Monsees' five assists. Against UC Davis, Sharf and Tyrrell were the scoring leaders with four and three goals, respectively. Warden was the team-leader with four assists and junior Trent Calder notched an impressive five steals. Thirteen different players scored for the Bears last weekend, led by Sharf's seven goals.
HEAD COACH Kirk Everist: A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, head coach Kirk Everist is in his sixth year, owning a 118-36 mark (.766) after leading the Bears to a 31-4 mark and the program's 12th NCAA crown in 2006. Cal also won the MPSF title last season and Everist was named Division I Coach of the Year. In 2002, he was selected MPSF Coach of the Year after guiding his alma mater to the league tournament title and the Bears' first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1995 in his inaugural 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 sixth season, and Sean Nolan, a 2000 USA Olympian, who is in his third season. Nolan was a three-time All-American at Cal, helping lead the Bears to the 1991 and 1992 NCAA titles
DID YOU KNOW? Since its charter season in 1918, Cal has won a NCAA record 12 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.
EXTRA BEAR NOTES: In 2006, Cal had an impressive 10 players selected to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-America Team, which tied the Bears' 1974 squad for the most All-Americans in a single year...returning Cal All-Americans include Sheredy, who was also MPSF All-Tournament and third-team All-MPSF; Tyrrell, who besides his game-winner in the title match versus USC, was MPSF honorable mention; Sharf, who was MPSF All-Academic and is a member of the USA National Training Team; Haley, an MPSF All-Academic selection, and Warden, who was named MPSF Newcomer of the Year, MPSF All-Tournament and MPSF All-Academic. Warden led the Bears with 61 steals, finished the 2006 season with 29 goals and had the match-winning assist to Tyrrell in the NCAA title match victory over USC...Warden played on the USA U20 squad that competed this summer at the Junior World Championships in Los Alamitos, Calif....former Cal standout John Mann, was featured in the August 6 issue of Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd after winning the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's best male collegiate water polo player in 2006...Mann is the first Bear to earn the prestigious award named after the former Cal coaching legend who won eight NCAA titles...Mann went on to help the USA National Team to a gold medal at this summer's PanAm Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, qualifying Team USA for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.