WOODLAND, CALIF. – The California men’s water polo team, which finished last year winning seven of its final eight contests before falling to top-ranked USC in the 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament title match, has been tabbed to finish fourth in the 2013 MPSF Preseason Coaches’ Poll, it was announced Tuesday (Aug. 20) by the conference office.
Coach Kirk Everist’s Golden Bears are picked to finish behind five-time defending national champion USC, Stanford and Pacific – and are tied for fourth in the voting with UCLA. Last season, Cal rattled off seven straight wins at the end of the year – including defeating the No. 2-ranked Bruins, 12-9, in the MPSF Tournament semifinal – before falling to USC, 9-5, to end the 2012 campaign 17-8.
Cal features five returning All-Americans for the 2013 season – first-team selection Collin Smith (senior attacker), second-team pick Aleksa Saponjic (junior attacker), and honorable mentions Hunter Gettelfinger (senior attacker), Jon Sibley (junior goalie) and Colin Mulcahy (sophomore attacker).
Smith, the team captain for the 2013 campaign, led the Bears in scoring last year with 61 goals, twice earning MPSF Player of the Week honors. Saponjic was second on the team in scoring in 2012 with 45 goals after helping Serbia capture a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. Gettelfinger notched 20 goals and was a top defender with a team-high 46 steals. Sibley had 110 saves in 12 matches, including 12 saves in his first collegiate match against top-ranked USC, while Mulcahy tallied 25 goals in 25 matches and was second on the squad with 29 ejections earned as a redshirt freshman.
Cal begins its 2013 season Sept. 7-8 at the Triton Invitational in San Diego. On Saturday, Sept. 7, the Bears will play the University of Redlands at 12:30 p.m. and host UC San Diego at 4:30 p.m. at Triton Pool on the UC San Diego campus. On Sunday, Sept. 8, Cal will face Loyola Marymount at 9:30 a.m. and UC Davis at 2:30 p.m. on UC San Diego’s East Pool.
The Bears will be televised six times on the Pac-12 Networks during the 2013 regular season. Cal’s six televised matches this fall are more than any other team in the MPSF. A huge TV match will be when USC visits Cal’s Spieker Aquatics Complex on Nov. 9 (time TBA). The Bears make five additional appearances on the Pac-12 Networks – Oct. 5 versus Pacific (time TBA), Nov. 1 at UCLA at 4:30 p.m., Nov. 14 versus Santa Clara at 2 p.m., Nov. 17 versus UC Irvine at 11 a.m., and Nov. 23 at Stanford for the Big Splash (time TBA).
Cal’s 2013 schedule includes 10 home matches at Spieker Aquatics Complex, including hosting a Sept. 14 Alumni match and the 16-team NorCal Tournament Sept. 21-22. Another MPSF league match hosted by the Bears will be a 7 p.m. night contest versus Pepperdine on Friday, Oct. 25.