No. 2 Cal Men's Water Polo Battles No. 1 USC, No. 8 Long Beach State at Spieker.
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/09/2005

Nov. 9, 2005


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Sat., Nov. 12 USC, Spieker Aquatics Complex, 10 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 LBS, Spieker Aquatics Complex, 12 p.m.

BEAR BITES: In a battle of the nation's top two collegiate water polo teams, No. 2-ranked California (18-4, 4-1) hosts No. 1-ranked USC (18-1, 5-0) in a MPSF showdown Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears then host No. 8 Long Beach State (15-12, 0-4) on Sunday. Cal will be looking to snap a seven-match losing streak to the Trojans (last win, 8-6 in overtime, Oct. 5, 2003 in NorCal semifinals at Stanford) after falling in two, one goal matches this season - 8-7 in the semifinal of the SoCal Open Sept. 18, and 9-8 in the championship match of the NorCal Open, Oct. 16 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears have already upended a No. 1-ranked team this year, topping defending national champion UCLA, 8-7 in overtime, in the third-place match of the SoCal Open. In 2005, Cal has had two players - junior All-American John Mann (Oct. 4) and senior goalie Nate Bennett (Oct. 25) - garner MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week honors. The Bears have also performed well in the two major regular season tournaments, placing third in the SoCal Open and second in the NorCal Open. Besides Cal's two losses to No. 1 USC, the Bears' only other defeats were, 7-4, Oct. 8 at UCLA, and, 8-6, Oct. 29 to Pepperdine at Spieker Aquatics.

CAL VERSUS THE TROJANS: In the 2005 NorCal Open final versus USC, sophomore Michael Sharf paced the Bears with three goals, followed by two goals from Mann, and goals from junior captain Brian Bacharach, junior Marty Matthies and sophomore Jeff Tyrrell. Bennett tallied nine saves. In the 2005 SoCal semifinals, Mann and junior Andrija Vasiljevic led the Bears with two goals apiece, while Bacharach, Sharf and true freshman Shea Buckner also added scores. Cal has had 17 different players tally goals this season, led by Mann's 47 goals, Sharf and Bacharach with 26 goals, and Vasiljevic with 22 goals. As a team, the Bears are third in the MPSF with 10.36 goals per game, and are third in the MPSF allowing 5.58 goals per game.

NOTING USC AND LONG BEACH STATE: No. 1 USC is 18-1 (5-0 in MPSF, lone loss, 5-4, Oct. 1 at Pepperdine), coached by Jovan Vavic (11th year), and led by senior Jaraj Zatovic's 55 goals. The Trojans have captured both the SoCal and the NorCal Opens. Last season, Cal lost to USC, 10-8 in overtime, in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. No. 8 Long Beach State is 15-12 (0-4 in MPSF), coached by Richard Azevedo (seventh year), and led by sophomore Brett McCleave's 63 goals. The 49ers placed eighth at the NorCal Open, falling UC Irvine, 10-9; and in their last two matches lost to UC Irvine, 10-7, and UCLA, 9-8. Earlier this year, Cal defeated Long Beach State, 9-8, in the second round of the NorCal Open. Last season, the Bears defeated the 49ers, 11-9 in overtime, in a Oct. 23, 2004 MPSF match in Long Beach.

GOLDEN BEARS TO WATCH: John Mann, center, JR - Oct. 4 MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week; 2004 first-team All-American; 2004 first-team All-MPSF; team-leading 47 goals in 2005; third in MPSF with 2.24 goals per game; 129 career goals; member of USA Senior National Team. Andrija Vasiljevic, attacker, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; MPSF third team; 22 goals in 2005; 97 career goals. Marty Matthies, center back, JR - 2004 Honorable mention All-American; considered the team's top all-around player and defender; 11 goals in 2005; member of USA Senior National Team. Nate Bennett, goalie, SR - Oct. 25 MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week; 2005 team captain; 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 159 saves in 2005; third in MPSF with 5.57 goal against average; 470 career saves; member of USA Senior National Team. Brian Kinsel, center, JR - 2004 MPSF honorable mention; 18 goals in 2005; 87 career goals. Brian Bacharach, attacker, JR - 2005 team captain; 26 goals in 2005; 92 career goals. Michael Sharf, attacker, SO - 26 goals in 2005, 48 career goals; member of USA Senior National Team. Tom Kurth, center, SR - 2005 team captain; 11 goals in 2005; 22 career goals. Shea Buckner, center back, FR - 13 goals in 2005; member of USA Senior National Team.

HEAD COACH Kirk Everist: Fourth year at Cal, 78-29 (.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. Also, from Oct. 12, 1991 through Sept. 18, 1993, the Bears won 47 consecutive matches without a loss.