Nov. 16, 2011
11-16-11 Cal Men's Water Polo Release
Sat., Nov. 19 at Stanford, Avery Aquatics Center Stanford, Calif. 5:15 p.m.
No. 3 Cal (19-3, 6-1) will invade No. 4 Stanford (18-4, 5-2) for the annual Big Splash Saturday (Nov. 19) at 5:15 p.m. at Avery Aquatics Center. 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 Big Splash also represents the final MPSF league contest before the Golden Bears, currently tied with UCLA (5-1) for second in the conference standings at 6-1, enter the Nov. 25-27 MPSF Tournament at UCLA. The winner of the MPSF Tournament is anautomatic qualifier for the 2011 NCAA championship, Dec. 3-4 at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears' three losses this season have all been by one goal (6-5 to No. 1 UCLA Sept. 18, 10-9 in overtime to No. 4 Stanford Oct. 2, and 9-8 in sudden death overtime to No. 2 USC Oct. 15). Conversely, Cal also has victories over both top-ranked UCLA (8-4 Oct. 2 and 8-5 Oct. 7) and Stanford (8-7 Sept. 18). The Bears feature the 2010 National Player of the Year Ivan Rackov, who leads the MPSF in scoring with 62 goals in 21 matches (2.95 gpg). Cal also leads the MPSF in team scoring with 12.50 goals per game, and are third behind USC and Stanford in team defense (6.09 gpg). The Bears have outscored their opponents, 275-134, this season. On Sept. 5 Rackov was this year's first MPSF Player of the Week with 12 goals in Cal's Sept. 3 home victories over UC Davis and Santa Clara, and was the Oct. 24 conference POW with four goals in an 11-8 win over No. 6 Pepperdine. The Bears' junior goalie, Justin Parsons, was tabbed as the Oct. 10 MPSF Player of the Week after tallying 26 saves in MPSF wins at current No. 1-ranked UCLA and Long Beach State, and a victory at No. 10 UC San Diego.
Returning Cal All-Americans/Top Newcomers:
Along with Rackov, the Bears return five All-Americans from the 2010 national runner-up squad that finished 24-4 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation - seniors Cory Nasoff, Charlie Steffens and Luka Saponjic, and junior goalie Parsons.
Bears' 2011 Scenario:
Rackov now has 227 career goals, second on the Bears' all-time scoring list behind Chris Humbert's 296 goals from 1988-91...Rackov also leads Cal with 55 steals and 54 assists, while junior Ayal Keren leads with 36 ejections earned and sophomore Hunter Gettlefinger has a team-best nine field blocks...senior Luka Saponjic is second on the team with 37 goals, while his freshman brother, Aleksa, is third with 25 goals...in 2011, the Bears look to win the NCAAs for the first time since topping USC in 2006 (8-7) and 2007 (8-6)...the Bears have the most collegiate titles (13) of any school in the nation...in 2010, Rackov became the first Cal player named the winner of both the Collegiate Water Polo Coaches and the Peter J. Cutino Player of the Year awards, leading the Bears with 79 goals, 82 assists and 70 steals...Rackov was also first-team All-American, first-team All-NCAA Tournament, first-team All-MPSF and first-team MPSF All-Tournament...Nasoff was a third-team All-American and second-team All-NCAA Tournament in 2010 with 28 goals and 24 ejections earned, and was a member of the USA National Team that was fourth at the WUG...Parsons was a third-team All-American last year after notching 197 saves, including 21 saves in the two NCAA tournament matches...Parsons currently has 169 saves in 19 matches in 2011...
Noting Stanford and The Big Splash:
No. 4 Stanford (18-5, 5-2) is coached by John Vargas (10th year) and led by freshman Alex Bowen's 53 goals (3rd in MPSF 2.52 gpg). The Cardinal lost last year's Big Splash, 9-6, at Cal, but went on to upend the Bears, 8-6, in the MPSF semifinal at Stanford. Since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established in 1999, Stanford owns a 7-5 advantage. 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 10th year with a 221-61 mark (.784), leading the Bears to NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, and MPSF titles in 2002 and 2006. He was 2006 NCAA and 2002 MPSF Coach of the Year. As a player, Everist won NCAA titles in 1987 and 1988, earning All-America (1986-88) and NCAA Player of the Year (1988). He played for Team USA for nine years (1988-96), competing in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Everist NCAA.com Interview.