Jan. 30, 2013
BERKELEY - The 2012 California Men's Water Polo Team (17-8, 5-3 in the MPSF) had six players named to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-America team, including first-team selection Collin Smith, it was announced Tuesday (Jan. 29) by the ACWPC.
Junior attacker Smith led the Bears in scoring this season with 61 goals in 23 matches (2.65 gpg, fifth in the MPSF) and had a team-high 31 assists, with 31 steals, 10 field blocks and 11 ejections earned. He scored three goals in Cal's MPSF first round victory over Pepperdine and was twice named MPSF Player of the Week during the regular season - Oct. 20 when he scored six goals in a Big Splash victory over Stanford, and Sept. 10 when he had 19 goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational. Smith was an honorable mention All-American in 2011 and currently has 103 career goals.
Earning second-team All-America honors was Aleksa Saponjic, a sophomore attacker who won a bronze medal competing for Serbia at the 2012 London Olympics. Saponjic was second on the team in scoring with 45 goals in 20 matches, including pacing Cal with four goals in the 11-9 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the MPSF tournament. He concluded the year with 28 assists, 17 steals, 12 ejections earned and five field blocks. As a freshman in 2011, Saponjic earned honorable mention All-America honors and was an ACWPC All-Academic selection.
Senior attacker and team captain Marin Balarin was selected third-team All-American. Balarin had earlier been named to the 2012 MPSF All-Tournament Team and finished the 2012 campaign third on the team with 41 goals in 25 matches. He paced the Bears with 51 ejections earned and scored three goals and had 10 ejections earned during the MPSF tournament. Balarin ended his Cal career with 68 goals, and in 2011 was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the team's most improved player, and was selected ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic.
Cal had three players - junior Hunter Gettelfinger, sophomore goalie Jon Sibley and redshirt freshman Colin Mulcahy - named 2012 honorable mention All-American. Gettelfinger scored 20 goals in 25 matches this season and was a top defender, leading the team with 46 steals. Sibley recorded 110 saves in 12 matches, including 12 saves in his first collegiate contest Sept. 23 against No. 1-ranked USC. Mulcahy was outstanding in his first college season, scoring 25 goals in 25 matches, including a pair of first half goals at USC. He was also second on the team with 29 ejections earned.
Head coach Kirk Everist's squad finished the 2012 campaign 17-8, winning seven of its last eight matches, including upending No. 2-ranked UCLA, 12-9, in the MPSF tournament semifinal. Cal only loses graduating seniors Marin Balarin and Mason Cox from the 2012 squad.
"It is a great honor to be selected to the All-American team and I am proud of all six of our players selected to the team," said Everist. "I am particularly proud of Marin Balarin. As a senior and captain he is someone who truly deserved to be recognized for his efforts this year."