No. 2 Men's Water Polo Hosts Cal Bear Invitational
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  08/31/2011

Aug. 31, 2011

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BERKELEY - Sat, Sept. 3 UC Davis, Spieker Aquatics Complex Berkeley, Calif. 9 a.m.

Sat, Sept. 3 Santa Clara, Spieker Aquatics Complex Berkeley, Calif. 4:30 p.m.

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 Preseason Collegiate Top 20 Poll, hosts No. 13 UC Davis at 9 a.m. and No. 14 Santa Clara at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 3) at Spieker Aquatics Complex as part of the season-opening Cal Bear Invitational (other matches Saturday include Pacific-Santa Clara at 10:30 a.m. and Pacific-UC Davis at 3 p.m. For full schedule and results click 2011 Cal Bear Invitational Schedule and Results). UC Davis is coached by former Cal player and assistant women's coach Steve Doten (1986-88). 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, Ciacomo 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.

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 nation...besides a No. 2 preseason ranking, Cal is tied for first with USC in the 2011 MPSF preseason coaches' 2010, Ivan 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...Charlie Steffens and Luka Saponjic were both honorable mention All-Americans in 2010 with Steffens providing leadership and tough defense as a team captain, and Saponjic finishing third on the team with 48 goals in 27 matches.

Spieker Aquatics Complex a Featured Venue in 2011:
For the second year in a row Cal will have the distinction of hosting the NCAA Championship, Dec. 3-4, at Spieker Aquatics Complex...the Bears own a 217-51 (.810) all-time record at Spieker Aquatics since the old Harmon Pool was renovated in 1982.

Noting UC Davis and Santa Clara:
No. 13 UC Davis (0-0) is coached by Cal alum Steve Doten (11th year). Doten was college teammates with Kirk Everist. The Aggie's were 18-10 last season, falling to the Bears, 14-4, at Cal and 13-8, at Davis. A top Aggie returner is senior center Aaron Salit with 49 goals in 2010. No. 14-ranked Santa Clara (0-0) is coached by Keith Wilbur (10th year) and led by senior James Case with 59 goals in 2010. The Bears defeated the Broncos (19-15 in 2010), 14-5, 15-8 and 16-7 last season. Both UC Davis and Santa Clara compete in the Western Water Polo Association, with the Aggies placing second and the Broncos, third, in the 2010 league standings.

Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 10th year with a 205-59 mark (.776), 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 interview on Everist Preseason Interview.