Nov. 17, 2010
BERKELEY -Fri., Nov. 19 Stanford, Spieker Aquatics Complex, Berkeley, Calif. 6 p.m.
Bear Bites: The No. 1 Cal men's water polo team (20-2, 7-0 MPSF), winners of 12 straight matches and sitting on top of both the national polls and conference standings, hosts No. 5 Stanford (13-6, 5-2) in the Big Splash Friday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Cal has defeated the Cardinal twice this season, 11-8, Sept. 19 at the NorCal Invitational at Cal and, 13-9, Oct. 3 at the SoCal Invitational at USC. The Bears have not lost since falling, 9-8, to UC Irvine on Oct. 2 at the SoCal Invitational. Cal's other loss this season was 12-11 to USC Oct. 3 in the semifinals of the NorCal Invite. Included in the Bears' winning streak is a defeat of former top-ranked and two-time defending NCAA champion USC, 12-9, Oct. 16 in Los Angeles. That win came immediately after upending then No. 2 ranked UCLA, 11-8, the week before at Spieker Aquatics Complex. 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 Bears, who have secured the No. 1 seed at next week's MPSF Tournament at Stanford, have been led by junior attacker Ivan Rackov, the Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 MPSF Player of the Week after three goals with four assists, four steals and two ejections earned against USC, and eight goals, 10 assists, three ejections earned at UCI and Pepperdine.
Top Cal Performers: Rackov has 63 goals in 21 matches, leading the MPSF with 3.00 gpg, and owns 149 career goals. He also paces Cal with 69 assists and 54 steals and has led the Bears in scoring in 14 of 22 matches. Rackov has scored at least one goal in every match he has played this season. Senior Zach White is fourth in the MPSF with 2.14 gpg (45 goals) and is the team leader with 33 ejections earned. Another top player is junior Luka Saponjic, who along with Rackov is a native of Belgrade, Serbia. Saponjic is third on the team with 40 goals. Other leaders include sophomore goalie Justin Parsons with 140 saves, including a season-high 13 saves in the UCLA match. Junior Cory Nasoff is fourth on the team in scoring with 25 goals, while captains Brian Dudley and Charlie Steffens lead with their all-around play. Senior Dudley has 52 steals, 37 assists, 10 ejections earned and eight field blocks. Junior Steffens has 28 assists, 23 steals, eight ejections earned and a team-high 14 field blocks. The Bears have had steady contributions from freshmen Max Bergeson (13 goals), Collin Smith (16 goals, 17 steals), Giacomo Cupido (31 steals) and Perry Short (11 goals, 18 steals) as well. Defensively, Cal has recorded 342 steals with 62 field blocks, and offensively, the Bears are second in the MPSF with 13.36 goals per game.
Bears Have Experience: Cal has four returning 2009 All-Americans - Dudley, White, Rackov and Nasoff. Dudley and White were freshmen when Cal defeated USC, 8-6, for the 2007 NCAA title...Dudley is a top student-athlete, earning a 4.0 GPA in the Haas School of Business...White played in all 32 matches in Cal's 2007 title year and was a third-team All-American in '09 (37 goals, 39 ejections earned)...Rackov was a '09 third-team All-American as well, leading Cal with 55 goals...Nasoff notched 27 goals and was an HM All-American with Dudley...Steffens earned a 4.0 GPA in ethnic studies and had 24 goals and a team-best 44 assists in '09...Saponjic, a member of the Serbian National Team, had four goals in a 12-11 overtime win over Stanford in the '09 MPSF semifinal...
Noting Stanford and The Big Splash: No. 5 Stanford (13-6, 5-2) is coached by John Vargas (9th year) and led by junior Jacob Smith's 46 goals (3rd in MPSF 2.42 gpg). The Cardinal lost their last match, 10-9, Nov. 14 at Pacific. Since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established in 1999, Stanford owns a 7-4 advantage in the Big Splash with Cal last winning, 6-5. in 2004 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Cal and Stanford are the nation's two most successful programs, with the Bears winning 13 NCAA titles and the Cardinal 10.
Head Coach Kirk Everist:A 2004 inductee into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, Kirk Everist is in his ninth year with a 201-57 mark (.779), 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.
Cal Hosting the 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship: Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex will be the host site of the 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, Dec. 4-5, as well. Tickets and information on the NCAA tournament are available through the following links, Click here for 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship tickets, 2010 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship page. Cal will also host the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship in 2011.