BERKELEY – The California men’s water polo team, which wrapped up last season winning its final two matches of the MPSF tournament, returns a strong senior class, 11 letterwinners and features two All-Americans for the upcoming 2014 season – second-team selection Aleksa Saponjic (senior attacker), and honorable mention pick Colin Mulcahy (junior attacker).
Senior leaders for the Golden Bears this year include top performers Blake Kelly, Luka Ivanovic and Matt Russell, who have all logged considerable minutes for Cal the past two seasons and will be a key to the team’s success in 2014. All three are multiple MPSF and ACWPC All-Academic honorees and have combined for 87 goals and 157 steals in their collegiate careers.
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Saponjic, a bronze medalist with Serbia at the 2012 London Olympics, led the Bears last season with 44 goals, including with three scores versus UC Irvine and four goals against Long Beach State in the MPSF tournament. Another leading returner is senior goalie Jon Sibley, a 2012 honorable mention All-American who was a member of the USA National Team this past summer.
Mulcahy has been an honorable mention All-American the past two years and was third on the Bears’ squad with 41 goals in 2013, while contributing a team-high 29 ejections earned and 13 field blocks. Junior Thomas Agramonte and sophomores Farrel South, Thomas Carroll and Chandler Jarrels-Stickney are also talented players who will bolster Kirk Everist’s squad in its quest for an NCAA-record 14th national title.
Everist’s squad will also be welcoming 10 standout freshmen, including Luca Cupido, a 6-4, 190-pound attacker from Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, and younger brother of Bear standout Giacomo Cupido, who shined for Everist’s squad from 2010-2013.
Luca Cupido was a 2013 first-team high school All-American at Newport Harbor High School and was a member of Italian squads that won gold medals at the 2013 LEN Junior European Championship and the 2013 FINA Junior World Championship. Cupido will be joined by fellow newcomers Lazar Andric (sophomore goalie), Thomas Appel, Nicholas Carniglia, Jonathan Chow, Conor Neumann, Troy Oates, Matt Sherburne, Pedro Stellet and Vassilas Tzavaras.
Cal will be televised four times on the Pac-12 Networks during the 2014 campaign. The Bears’ televised matches include a non-conference match versus Navy on Friday, Sept. 26 at 12:30 a.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. On Saturday, Oct. 18 Cal will host UCLA in an MPSF tilt at Spieker Aquatics (time TBA). The annual Big Splash between Stanford and the Bears will also be televised on the Pac-12 Networks on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 11 a.m. at Spieker.
Finally, Cal’s Saturday, Nov. 15 match in Los Angeles at six-time defending NCAA champion USC will be shown on the Pac-12 Networks, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The Bears’ 2014 schedule includes seven home matches at Spieker Aquatics Complex, including hosting a Sept. 13 Alumni match at 12 p.m. Besides the Oct. 18 UCLA match and the Nov. 8 Stanford contest, other MPSF league matches hosted at Cal will be 1 p.m. contests versus UC Santa Barbara Nov. 1 and Long Beach State Nov. 2.
Last season, the Bears defeated UC Irvine and Long Beach State in the MPSF Tournament after a first round loss to USC to end the 2013 campaign 18-8. Cal has a 229-58 (.798) all-time record at Spieker Aquatics Complex since Harmon Pool was renovated in 1982. Spieker Aquatics Complex hosted the NCAA Men’s Water Polo Championships in 2010 and 2011, and will again host the national championship tournament in 2015.