Jan. 20, 2012
BERKELEY - The 2011 University of California men's water polo team, which finished 22-4 and was second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings, had eight players recognized by the MPSF as members of the 2011 All-Academic Team, it was announced by MPSF executive director Al Beaird. Seniors Charlie Steffens and Wil Toppen, junior Marin Balarin, sophomores Giacomo Cupido, Hunter Gettelfinger and Perry Short, and redshirt freshmen Matt Russell and Blake Kelly, were all noted by the MPSF for their academic achievements.
To be eligible for the MPSF All-Academic Team, an athlete must have a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA, must be at least a sophomore academically, and must have competed in fifty percent or more of a team's matches. Balarin is a senior academically, while Russell and Kelly are sophomores academically.
"Congratulations to the eight players recognized for their work in the classroom this past fall," said Cal coach Kirk Everist. "We are very proud of the work our players do in and out of the pool and having eight players on this list is very exciting. This team had very high academic goals for this year and it is great to see them achieve them."
Senior attacker Steffens had 14 goals in 25 matches this season with 16 assists, 23 steals, nine ejections earned and three field blocks. He finished with 71 career goals, including a goal in this year's MPSF Tournament, and was a 2010 honorable mention All-American. Steffen's father, Carlos, earned All-America honors three times at Cal, helping the Bears to the 1977 NCAA title and garnering the 1979 Pac-10 Player of the Year award.
Senior goalie Toppen had 39 saves in seven matches (124 minutes of action, 5.57 saves per match) this year with four assists and three steals. He was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the team's most improved player in 2009 and finished with 270 saves in 43 career matches (6.28 saves per match).
Balarin (19 goals), Cupido (36 steals), Gettelfinger (12 goals, 28 steals, 10 field blocks), Short (13 assists, nine goals), Kelly (20 steals, 11 goals) and Russell (five steals, five ejections earned) were all major contributors for Cal this season as well.
The Bears finished the 2011 campaign 22-4 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Cal's four losses this past season were all by one goal, including 7-6 in overtime to UCLA in the Nov. 26 MPSF Tournament semifinal in Los Angeles. The Bears also fell 6-5 to UCLA Sept. 18 in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament in Stockton, 10-9 in overtime to Stanford Oct. 2, and 9-8 in sudden death overtime to USC Oct. 15 at Cal.