No. 2 Cal MWP Visits NorCal Invitational
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  09/13/2011

Sept. 13, 2011

9-13-11 Men's Water Polo Release Get Acrobat Reader

BERKELEY - Sat-Sun, Sept. 17-18 at NorCal Invitational, Delta JC/UOP Stockton, Calif. TBD

Bear Bites:
The 2011 California men's water polo team, featuring 2010 National Player of the Year Ivan Rackov and ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Top 20 Poll, will have a tough test this weekend as the Golden Bears travel to the 16-team NorCal Invitational, Sept. 17-18, in Stockton (2011 NorCal Tournament schedule/results). The NorCal tourney features the country's top teams, including No. 1 USC, No. 2 Cal, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 host Pacific from the MPSF. The Bears, who play Vanguard (1-6) Saturday in the tournament opener, are 2-0, outscoring opponents, 37-8, with a 16-5 victory over then-No. 13 UC Davis and a 21-3 win over then-No. 14 Santa Clara Sept. 3 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. On Sept. 5 Rackov became this season's first MPSF Player of the Week after tallying 12 goals with eight steals and seven assists in Cal's victories over UC Davis and Santa Clara (Rackov MPSF POW release). 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 Justin Parsons. Cal also showcases six players (Collin Smith, Zach Greenwood, Perry Short, Giacomo Cupido, Jack Stampfl, Hunter Gettelfinger) who competed in all 28 matches last season and welcomes in junior Ayal Keren, a 6-2 utility player from Tivon, Israel who was the California Junior College Player of the Year at Diablo Valley College, and 6-3 freshman attacher 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.

About the NorCal Invitational:
The NorCal Invitational features 16 teams, 14 which were ranked in last week's Top 20 poll. Pools A and D play Saturday's matches at Pacific (Chris Kjeldsen Pool), while Pools B and C compete at Delta Junior College (June Furgesson Pool) in Stockton. Pool A consists of No. 1 USC, No. 8 UC Irvine, No. 9 Long Beach State and West Valley JC. Pool B includes No. 2 Cal, No. 7 Pepperdine, No. 11 UC Davis and Vanguard. Pool C has No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, No. 13 Concordia and No. 20 Air Force. Pool D features No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Pacific, No. 14 Santa Clara and No. 19 St. Francis. On Sept. 17, Cal plays Vanguard at 8 a.m. at Delta Junior College, and if the Bears prevail, they would play the winner of Pepperdine-UC Davis at 2:40 p.m. If Cal wins both of its matches Saturday, it would play at 12 p.m. at Chris Kjeldsen Pool versus the winner of Pool C (UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Concordia, Air Force). If Cal wins that match, it plays for the championship at 5:20 p.m. The Bears last captured the NorCal Invitational in 2003 when they upset then-No. 1-ranked USC in overtime in the semifinals and upended No. 2-ranked and host Stanford in sudden-death overtime. Last season at the NorCal Invitational at Cal, the Bears fell to USC, 12-11, in the semifinals, and won 11-8 to Stanford, in the third-place match.

Cal's 2011 Scenerio/Returning Standouts:
In 2011, the Bears will look to avenge last year's 12-10 overtime loss to USC in the NCAA finals and capture the national championship for the first time since upending the Trojans in the 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6) title matches...the Bears have won more collegiate titles (13) than any other team in the 2010, Rackov became the first player in school history to be 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...Cory 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 won a bronze at the WUG...Justin Parsons was also a third-team All-American last year after notching 197 saves, including 21 saves in the two NCAA tournament matches...

Head Coach Kirk Everist
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 10th year with a 207-59 mark (.778), leading the Bears to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, and MPSF crowns in 2002 and 2006. He was the 2006 NCAA Coach of the Year and 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year. A 1990 Cal graduate, Everist led the Bears to NCAA titles in 1987 and 1988, earning All-American status three straight seasons (1986-88) and NCAA Player of the Year honors in 1988. He played for the USA National Team for nine years (1988-96)and competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. See Everist's season preview interview on Everist Preseason Interview.