No. 1 Cal Faces No. 4 UCLA at Rose Bowl Aquatic Center
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  10/05/2005

Oct. 5, 2005


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Sat., Oct. 8 at UCLA, Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, 1 p.m.

BEAR BITES: The No. 1-ranked California men's water polo team (10-1) will face a stern test as the Golden Bears open their MPSF schedule against defending national champion and No. 4-ranked UCLA (9-2) Saturday at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center in Pasadena, Calif. The Bears are fresh off an impressive 9-5 victory over Bay Area rival Stanford last Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex, led by junior All-American and Oct. 4 MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week John Mann's four goals, and nine saves from senior goalie Nate Bennett. The Bruins only losses this season have been overtime affairs, with Stanford defeating UCLA in the SoCal Open semifinal, 10-9 in overtime, and Cal defeating the Bruins, 8-7 in overtime, in the SoCal third-place match. The Bears are strong contenders for the 2005 NCAA title, featuring Mann (team-leading 60 goals in 2004), Andrija Vasiljevic (honorable mention All-American, 39 goals) and Marty Matthies (honorable mention All-American, 14 goals). The Bears also have Bennett, who recorded 216 saves in 29 matches last season, and junior attacker Brian Bacharach, the team's second leading scorer in 2004 with 48 goals. Mann, Matthies, Bennett, sophomore Michael Sharf and freshman Shea Buckner are all members of the USA Senior National Team Training Roster for the 2008 Olympic Games.

CAL TOPS STANFORD: The Bears were impressive last weekend at Spieker Aquatics Complex, defeating then-No. 2 Stanford, 9-5, behind Mann's four goals, Bennett's nine saves, and goals from Mike Hayes, Matthies, Sharf, Jeff Tyrrell and Vasiljevic. Cal then tallied 33 goals Sunday in a 16-2 win over No. 20 UC Santa Cruz and a 17-6 victory over Santa Clara. Fourteen different players scored for the Bears over the weekend, with Mann leading the way with seven goals, and Bacharach and sophomore Zac Monsees pacing Cal with five goals apiece on Sunday. The Bears' success this season (Cal's only loss was to No. 2 USC, 8-7, in the SoCal Open semifinal) has not only been from the scoring ranks. Bacharach leads Cal with 16 assists, followed by 12 assists from Vasiljevic and 11 assists from Mann. Defensively, Matthies tops the Bears with 18 steals, Vasiljevic has 15 steals, and Mann and junior center Brian Kinsel have 14 steals apiece.

NOTING UCLA: No. 4-ranked UCLA is 9-2, coached by Adam Krikorian (seventh year) and is led by senior David Pietsch with 25 goals. The Bears upset the defending national champion Bruins in the last match-up, 8-7 in overtime, in the third-place match of the SoCal Open Sept. 18, led by three goals from Vasiljevic, two goals by Monsees and Sharf, and 12 saves from Bennett. Cal and UCLA represent the best in collegiate water polo as the two schools have met four times for the NCAA title, with the Bears winning the national title over the Bruins in 1988 (14-11) and 1991 (7-6). In all, Cal has won 11 NCAA titles, and UCLA 8.

GOLDEN BEARS TO WATCH: John Mann, center, JR - 2004 first-team All-American; 2004 first-team All-MPSF; team-leading 23 goals in 2005; sixth in MPSF with 2.09 goals per game; 105 career goals. Andrija Vasiljevic, attacker, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; MPSF third team; 13 goals in 2005; 88 career goals. Marty Matthies, center back, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; considered the team's top all-around player and defender; team-high 18 steals in 2005. Nate Bennett, goalie, SR - 2005 team captain; 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 64 saves in 2005; second in MPSF with 4.74 goal against average; 375 career saves. Brian Kinsel, center, JR - 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 76 career goals. Brian Bacharach, attacker, JR - 2005 team captain; 17 goals in 2005, 83 career goals. Michael Sharf, attacker, SO - 15 goals in 2005, 37 career goals; Tom Kurth, center, SR - 2005 team captain; 15 career goals.

HEAD COACH Kirk Everist: Fourth year at Cal, 70-29 (.729). 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.