No. 3 Cal MWP Visits No. 5 UCSB
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/02/2011

Nov. 2, 2011

11-2-11 Cal Men's Water Polo Release Get Acrobat Reader

BERKELEY - Sat., Nov. 5 UC Santa Barbara, Campus Pool Santa Barbara, Calif. 12 p.m.

Bear Bites:
No. 3-ranked Cal (16-3, 4-1) plays its 15th road match of the season when it travels to No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (14-7, 2-2) for an MPSF contest Saturday (Nov. 5) at 12 p.m. at UCSB's Campus Pool. With only four regular season matches remaining, the Golden Bears are looking to finish strong in order for a high seeding at the Nov. 25-27 MPSF Tournament at UCLA. Cal's three losses this season have all been by one goal and to teams currently ranked above the Bears (6-5 to No. 1 UCLA Sept. 18, 10-9 in overtime to No. 3 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). Cal features the 2010 National Player of the Year Ivan Rackov, who leads the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in scoring with 55 goals in 18 matches (3.06 gpg). The Bears also lead the MPSF in team scoring with 12.89 goals per game, and are fourth behind USC, Stanford and UCLA in team defense, allowing 5.95 goals per game. Cal has outscored its opponents, 245-113, this season. On Sept. 5 Rackov became this season's first MPSF Player of the Week after tallying 12 goals in Cal's Sept. 3 home victories over UC Davis and Santa Clara, and he 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 four other 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 220 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 34 goals (sixth in MPSF, 2.00 gpg), while his brother, Aleksa, is now third on the squad with 23 goals in 16 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 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 155 saves in 16 matches in 2011...Cal hosts the NCAA Tournament again this season, Dec. 3-4 at Spieker Aquatics Complex...

Noting UC Santa Barbara:
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (14-7, 2-2) is coached by Wolf Wigo (seventh year, former Olympic teammate with Kirk Everist) and led by sophomore Matt Gronow with 37 goals in 21 matches (1.76 gpg). Last year, the Bears defeated the Gauchos, 12-5, in an MPSF match in Berkeley.

Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 10th year with a 218-61 mark (.781), 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 Interview.