Oct. 17, 2012
10-17-12 Cal Men's Water Polo Release
Sat., Oct. 20 Stanford, Spieker Aquatics Complex, Berkeley, Calif. 9:30 a.m.
In the Big Splash showdown, Cal (9-6, 0-2) hosts Bay Area rival Stanford (8-3, 2-1) Saturday (Oct. 20) in a MPSF contest shown live at 9:30 a.m. on the Pac-12 Networks (play-by-play Jim Watson, color analyst Chris Dorst). The winner of the Big Splash will receive the Steve Heaston Trophy, named after the former Cal men's water polo coach (1989-98, three NCAA titles) who passed away in 1999. The two schools are the most successful in the nation, winning a combined 23 NCAA titles (Cal 13, Stanford 10). The Golden Bears, featuring 2012 Olympian Aleksa Saponjic and leading scorer Collin Smith (40 goals), will be looking to avenge an earlier 9-8 loss to the Cardinal Sept. 16 at the NorCal Invite at Stanford. Despite the Bears' 9-6 record in 2012, they are outscoring opponents, 202-103, and will be playing only their second home match of the season Saturday. On Sept. 10, junior attacker Smith earned MPSF POW honors after 19 goals with eight assists and seven steals in Cal's five victories at the Princeton Invite. Smith joins Saponjic as returning All-Americans from the 2011 squad that finished 22-4 overall and 7-1 in the MPSF. Saponjic was honorable mention All-America as a freshman with 30 goals, 22 assists and 18 steals. Smith was honorable mention All-America as a sophomore with 26 goals, 20 steals and 28 assists, including match-winning goals in MPSF wins over UC Santa Barbara and Pacific.
The Bears have been stung by five one-goal losses this season (three in overtime), including a 10-9 sudden death overtime loss to UCLA in their last match Oct. 6. In that contest, Cal was led by senior captain Marin Balarin's three goals, while Saponjic added two goals and sophomore goalie Jon Sibley had eight saves.
Cal's 2012 Scenario:
Of Cal's 10 losses in the last two years, nine have been by one goal, including a 9-8 sudden death overtime loss to four-time defending NCAA champion USC at Cal in 2011, and a 7-6 loss to the Trojans Sept. 23 in Los Angeles...in the last two years, the Bears have gone 15-3 in MPSF league play and were national runners-up in 2010...Cal has won more collegiate titles (13) than any other team in the nation, last upending USC for the 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6) NCAA titles...the Bears will be televised four times this season (Sept. 7 at Princeton and Sept. 23 at USC on ESPNU; and Oct. 6 versus UCLA,12:30 p.m., and Oct. 20 versus Stanford).
Saponjic's Olympic Experience:
Aleksa Saponjic helped Serbia to a 12-11 victory over Montenegro in the bronze medal match of the London Olympics on Aug. 12. Saponjic became the first Bear to win an Olympic medal in men's water polo since Kevin Robertson and assistant coach Steve Heaston were members of the USA team that won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics. In the bronze medal match, Saponjic, the second youngest player for Serbia at 20, had a steal and won the sprint in the second and third quarters. He finished the Olympics with a goal in a 21-7 win over Great Britain, and won seven sprints during the tournament with four steals, two block shots and one assist.
Noting Stanford and The Big Splash:
Stanford (8-3, 2-1 MPSF) is coached by John Vargas (11th year) and led by sophomore Alex Bowen's 28 goals (5th in MPSF 2.55 gpg). The Cardinal lost last year's Big Splash, 11-4, at Stanford, and fell to the Bears, 8-7, in the third place match of the 2011 MPSF Tournament at UCLA. Since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established in 1999, Stanford owns a slight 7-6 advantage. Cal and Stanford are the nation's two most successful programs, with the Bears winning 13 NCAA titles and the Cardinal 10. In national championship matches between the two schools, Stanford has won four times (1978, 80, 86, 2002) and Cal three (1984, 90, 92).
Head Coach Kirk Everist:
A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his 11th year with a 236-69 mark (.774), 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.
INDIVIDUAL CAL PLAYER NOTES:
12 Thomas Agramonte:
Freshman attacker who redshirted during the 2012 season...has 15 goals in 15 matches with 16 assists, 14 steals, four ejections earned and two field blocks...had a goal in last match versus UCLA...notched four goals and had five assists at the SoCal Invite...scored three goals at the NorCal Invitational...had seven goals at Princeton Invite with four assists, three steals and an ejection earned...led the Bears with four goals Sept. 8 versus Harvard.
8 Marin Balarin:
Senior attacker and team captain is second on the team with 26 goals in 15 matches (1.73 gpg) with a team-high 33 ejections earned, along with 15 assists, 16 steals and two field blocks...led Cal with three goals Oct. 6 versus UCLA...had 10 ejections earned, eight steals with four goals at the SoCal Invite and five goals at the NorCal Invite...had a team-high four goals Sept. 8 against Bucknell...scored 19 goals in 25 matches last season with 28 ejections earned...was selected the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the team's most improved player and was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...scored goals against UC Irvine and Stanford in the 2011 MPSF Tournament...notched a goal versus Stanford in the 2011 Big Splash...has 53 career goals.
1 Michael Boggan:
Junior goalie has 97 saves in 13 matches (340 minutes of action)...had 44 saves in four matches at the SoCal Invite, including a career-high 12 saves versus Pacific...gathered 39 saves at the NorCal Invite, including 11 saves in the semifinal match versus UCLA...has 108 career saves.
4 Mason Cox:
Senior attacker has 11 goals in 15 matches with 20 assists (second on team), 11 steals, six field blocks and an ejection earned...had four goals at the NorCal Invite and five goals in five matches at the Princeton Invite...also tallied a team-high eight assists at Princeton Sept. 7...has 27 career goals.
14 Giacomo Cupido:
Junior defender/utility has seven goals in 13 matches with 14 assists, 13 steals, five field blocks and two ejections earned...had a goal Oct. 6 versus UCLA and six goals at the SoCal Invite with five assists and four steals...last season played in 25 matches with 36 steals, 25 assists, 10 goals, eight field blocks and five ejections earned...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...had a goal against UCLA and two goals against Stanford in the 2011 MPSF Tournament...is from Santa Margherita Ligure, Genova, Italy...has 26 career goals.
9 Hunter Gettelfinger:
Junior attacker has scored 13 goals in 15 matches with a 24 steals (second on team) along with 15 assists, four ejections earned and eight field blocks...had a goal and four steals Oct. 6 versus UCLA...had four goals, seven assists and six steals at the SoCal Invite and a goal at USC Sept. 23...scored three goals at the NorCal Invite...last season had 28 steals, 16 assists, eight ejections earned, a team-high 10 field blocks and 12 goals...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...has 39 career goals.
16 Mitchell Hamilton:
True freshman attacker has eight goals in 10 matches...also has nine steals, six assists, two ejections earned and a field block...had four goals in both the SoCal abd NorCal Invitationals...notched two goals in the Bears' Sept. 15 victory over UC Irvine and two goals in the Sept. 30 win over Pepperdine.
13 Luka Ivanovic:
Sophomore attacker has scored five goals in 15 matches with a team-high 12 field blocks along with 11 steals, eight assists and two ejections earned...in 2011 had seven goals in 25 matches with 15 steals, two assists and six field blocks...was 2011 ACWPC All-Academic...is from Podgorica, Montenegro...has 12 career goals.
2 Blake Kelly:
Sophomore defender/utility has scored two goals in 10 matches with six assists, four ejections earned, three field blocks and four steals...last season played in 25 matches with 20 steals, four assists, 11 goals, five field blocks and five ejections earned...was 2011 ACWPC and MPSF All-Academic...had a goal against UC Irvine in the first round of the 2011 MPSF Tournament...scored goals in 2011 MPSF victories at UCLA and versus Pepperdine at Cal...has 13 career goals.
10 Colin Mulcahy:
Redshirt freshman attacker has 18 goals in 15 matches, including a pair of first half goals at No. 1-ranked USC Sept. 23...also is second on the team with 19 ejections earned with 11 assists, 10 steals and five field blocks...had four goals at the SoCal Invite and six goals at the NorCal Invite, including a team-high three goals Sept. 15 versus Air Force...had six goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational.
6 Matt Russell:
Sophomore center has 12 goals in 15 matches with 12 ejections earned, seven steals, six assists and a field block...notched a goal at USC Sept. 23; and scored two goals at the SoCal Invite and five goals at the NorCal Invite...had four goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational...has 15 career goals...redshirted in 2010.
11 Aleksa Saponjic:
Sophomore attacker has 24 goals in 12 matches with 14 assists, 11 steals, seven ejections earned and four field blocks...had two goals with two assists versus UCLA Oct. 6...tallied nine goals with five assists and five steals at the SoCal Invite, including four goals versus Pepperdine...had two goals at No. 1-ranked USC Sept. 23 and eight goals at the NorCal Invite, including a team-high three goals Sept. 16 versus UCLA....had three goals in two matches at the Princeton Invite...was third on the 2011 squad with 30 goals in 22 matches with 22 assists, 18 steals, nine ejections earned and six field blocks...earned 2011 honorable mention All-America honors as a freshman and helped Serbia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics...was also a 2011 ACWPC All-Academic selection...scored in all eight MPSF matches last season...won a gold medal at the World University Games in the summer of 2011 along with older brother Luka, a standout at Cal from 2008-11...has 54 career goals.
15 Max Schell:
True freshman center has seven goals in 15 matches with 15 ejections earned, 12 steals, four assists and four field blocks...had three goals in five matches at the Princeton Invite...added a team-high eight ejections earned at Princeton Invite.
1 Jon Sibley:
Sophomore goalie was outstanding Sept. 23 at No. 1-ranked USC in his first collegiate match, recording 12 saves with a steal and an assist...had eight saves Oct. 6 versus UCLA.
7 Collin Smith:
Junior attacker leads the Bears and is fourth in the MPSF with 40 goals in 15 matches (2.67 gpg)...also has a team-high 23 assists and 25 steals with six field blocks and seven ejections earned...had a goal Oct. 6 versus UCLA...scored 10 goals at both the SoCal and NorCal Invites...was named the Sept. 10 MPSF Player of the Week after scoring 19 goals in five matches with eight assists, seven steals, three field blocks and two ejections earned at the Princeton Invite...last season played in 22 matches with 26 goals, 20 steals, 28 assists, nine ejections earned and four field blocks, earning 2011 honorable mention All-America honors...scored three goals during the 2011 MPSF Tournament...nailed the match-winning goals in the Bears' 2011 MPSF victories at UC Santa Barbara and versus Pacific...also notched a team-high three goals versus Stanford during the 2011 Big Splash...has 82 career goals.