Cal Closes Out Regular Season
Nov. 21, 2008
The No. 4-ranked Cal men's water polo team (17-6, 3-3), the defending 2006 and 2007 national champions, close out the regular season this weekend with a pair of MPSF conference matches when the Golden Bears face No. 3-ranked Stanford (21-4, 5-2) in the Big Splash Saturday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. in Berkeley and No. 18-ranked Pacific (10-19, 0-7) Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12 p.m. in Stockton. Last weekend Cal evened its MPSF conference record at 3-3 with a win over No. 10-ranked Long Beach State, 11-10, in sudden death overtime in Long Beach and a victory over No. 9-ranked UC Irvine, 8-6, on Sunday Nov. 15 in Irvine.
Cal Over the Weekend
Cal, behind a goal from sophomore Brian Dudley in sudden death overtime, defeated Long Beach State, 11-10, on Saturday afternoon. Cal who found themselves trailing 8-5 scored two goals in a row, to cut the lead to one. The Bears took advantage of a 6-on-5 to tie the game with only 0:39 seconds left. The squads swapped a pair goals in the first and second overtime. Dudley's sudden death goal gave the Bears an 11-10 victory. Dudley led Cal with four goals, while senior Trent Calder added three goals. Freshman Luka Saponjic, freshman Cory Nasoff, junior Spencer Warden, and senior Frank Reynolds also notched goals. On Sunday, Cal held off UC Irvine, 8-6. The Bears built a four goal lead after three periods and held on for the victory. UC Irvine scored a pair of extra-man goals in the fourth quarter for the final margin. Nasoff and Dudley led Cal with two goals apiece while Rackov, Reynolds, Calder, and Saponjic each notched one goal.
A balanced has epitomized Cal's season as the Bears have 10 players who have scored more than 10 goals and six players averaging more than one goal a match - Warden 31 goals, Reynolds 31 goals, Calder 26 goals, Rackov 25 goals, Zach White 22 goals, and Saponjic 19 goals. Cal is only team in the MPSF with five players in the top 25 in goals per game average. Dudley has two game winning goals this season in overtime after his game winner against Long Beach State on Saturday. Rackov leads Cal with 27 assists, White tops the squad with 26 ejections earned and senior Calder has a team-best 13 field blocks. The Bears have outscored their opponents 263-152 and have 310 steals, 236 assists, 166 ejections earned and 60 field blocks. Reynolds was this season's (Sept. 8) first MPSF Co-Player of the Week after leading the team with 11 goals, and adding four assists, three steals, three ejections earned and two field blocks at the Sept. 6-7 Navy Open. This year's Cal squad is attempting to be the first men's water polo squad to win three straight NCAA titles since the 1990-92 teams accomplished the feat.
Noting Stanford and Pacific
No. 3-ranked Stanford (21-4, 5-2) last fell to No. 1 USC, 6-5, on Nov. 15 in Palo Alto. The Cardinal defeated Cal, 11-10, in SDOT Sept. 21 in the third-place match of the NorCal Open. The winner of the Big Splash claims the Steve HoustonTrophy. Cal and Stanford have faced off in seven NCAA title matches with Stanford holding a 4-3 edge. Stanford is coached by former Olympian John Vargas who has taken Stanford to four NCAA title matches. No. 18-ranked Pacific (10-19, 0-7) last fell to No. 10 Long Beach State, 13-6, Nov. 16 in Long Beach. The Bears defeated the Tigers, 16-4, in a non-conference match on Oct. 4 in Berkeley. Pacific is led by first-year coach James Graham.
Head Coach Kirk Everist
Everist (157-46, .773, seventh year) led the Bears to a 28-4 mark and the program's 13th NCAA crown in 2007. In 2006, he also led Cal to the NCAA title, and in 2002 was MPSF Coach of the Year after the Bears made their first NCAA appearance since 1995. A 1990 Cal graduate, Everist led the Bears to NCAA titles in 1987 and 1988, earning All-America honors from 1986-88 and NCAA Player of the Year in 1988. He was on the USA National Team for nine years (1988-96), competing in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Everist's staff includes associate head coach Boyd Lachance(seventh year), and Sean Nolan(fourth year), a 2000 USA Olympian who was a three-time All-American at Cal, helping lead the Bears to the 1991 and 1992 NCAA titles.