Sept. 30, 2009
BERKELEY, CALIF. -
Sat, Oct. 3 USC, Spieker Aquatics Complex Berkeley, Calif. 12:00 p.m.
In a showdown between two of the most storied collegiate water polo programs in the nation, the No. 4-ranked Cal men's water polo team (8-2) will host No. 3-ranked and defending national champion USC (9-1, 1-0 MPSF) Saturday, Oct. 3 in a noon match at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears, who defeated the Trojans in both the 2006 (7-6) and 2007 (8-6) national championship matches, fell to USC earlier this season, 8-6, in the third-place match of the NorCal Invitational, Sept. 20 at Stanford. Cal has won an NCAA-record 13 national titles, while the Trojans have four titles. The match versus USC is the Bears' MPSF league-opener.
Head coach Kirk Everist's troops feature several key returnees from last season, including senior captains Spencer Warden and Mike Sample, and juniors Brian Dudley and Zach White - all members of the Bears' 2007 NCAA championship team. Warden and Dudley notched scores during the 8-6 win over USC in the `07 final. Warden, a three-time All-American, garnered second-team All-America honors last year after leading Cal with 40 goals and 68 steals; while Dudley was an honorable mention All-American after scoring 28 goals, including a match-winning shot in overtime at Long Beach State. The Bears also feature 6-2, 190-pound sophomore attacker Cory Nasoff, who earned this season's first MPSF Player of the Week accolade when he notched 11 goals in three Navy Open matches with seven assists, five steals and two ejections earned. Nasoff is currently tied for fourth in the MPSF with 2.33 goals per game. As a team, Cal is second in the MPSF with 13.7 goals per game.
Additional Bear Notes:
After 10 matches, Cal is led by sophomore Ivan Rackov's 23 goals, followed by 19 goals from Nasoff, 17 goals by Zach White and 13 goals from redshirt freshman Spencer White (younger brother of Zach)...other stat leaders include sophomore Charlie Steffens with 25 assists, Rackov with 20 steals, Nasoff with 14 ejections earned and Sample with nine field blocks...sophomore goalie Wil Toppen has established himself as the Bears' starting goalie after notching 33 saves during the NorCal Invitational, including a career-high 15 saves versus UC Santa Barbara...Rackov was impressive in last week's victory at Pacific, leading the Bears with three goals, seven steals and three assists...as a team, Cal had an impressive 18 steals and 14 ejections earned...besides a No. 4 preseason ranking, the Bears were tabbed third behind USC and 2008 national runner-up Stanford in the 2009 MPSF preseason coaches' poll...this summer, Sample was a member of the U.S. World University Games team, coached by Everist, that placed sixth in Belgrade, Serbia...sophomore Luka Saponjic helped his native Serbia to a bronze medal at the World University Games, scoring six goals during the tournament...Zach White won a silver medal in July at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
No. 3 USC (9-1) is coached by Jovan Vavic (15th year) and led by senior Justin Rappel's 16 goals. The Trojan's lone defeat was a 5-4 loss to UCLA, Sept. 20 in the semifinals of the NorCal Invitational at Stanford. Last week, USC defeated Pepperdine, 14-8, in its MPSF league-opener and junior driver Kyle Sterling was named MPSF Player of the Week. Last season, Cal fell to the Trojans, 12-7, in the semifinals of the SoCal Invitational, and, 11-9, in an MPSF match in Los Angeles. In the last three years the Bears are 4-6 versus USC, but won the `06 MPSF title match, as well as the `06 and `07 NCAA championships.
Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his eighth year with a 167-51 mark (.766), leading the Bears to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, and MPSF crowns in 2002 and 2006. Everist was the 2006 NCAA Coach of the Year and 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year. A 1990 Cal graduate, he 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. Everist played for the USA National Team for nine years (1988-96)and competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.