No. 5 Bears Open Season At Home
BERKELEY - The No. 5 California men's water polo team will open the 2021 campaign at home, hosting fellow CWPA Top-5 squads UCLA and USC at Spieker Aquatics Complexthis weekend. The Bears will take on No. 3 UCLA at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, and the No. 1 USC Trojans at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
A talented group of freshmen join the Bears this season, bolstering a group of key returners which includes All-American honorable mention recipients Nikolaos Papanikolaou and Adrian Weinberg and All-MPSF honorable mention Nikos Delgrammatikas.
The batch of newcomers includes four players with USA Water Polo Cadet and Youth National Team Experience - center George Avakian, goalkeeper Will Kieckhafer and attackers Tommy Kennedy and Alika Naone.
All six of Cal's incoming freshmen earned High School All-American honors in 2019.
The No. 3 Bruins return four of their top five scorers and eight of their top 10 from 2019, including first team All-American and All-MPSF selection Felix Brozyna-Vilim (33 goals, 73 drawn exclusions). Also back for UCLA are third team All-Americans Jake Cavano (team-high 42 goals) and Tommy Gruwell (26 goals, 22 assists). UCLA finished 2019 with a 17-5 record, going 1-2 in the MPSF.
The No. 1 Trojans welcome back All-Americans and All-MPSF honorees Jacob Mercep (51 goals, 32 assists), Hannes Daube (36 goals, 27 assists), Jake Ehrhardt and goalkeeper Nic Porter. USC ended 2019 in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, falling to eventual national champion Stanford. On the season, the team went 15-6 with a 3-0 MPSF record.
2019 IN REVIEW
The Golden Bears finished 14-11 in 2019 and made a run at the MPSF tournament title, knocking off top-seeded USC in the semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Stanford in the title match. Cal landed at No. 8 in the final CWPA Top 20 poll of the season.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Sophomore Adrian Weinberg of Oak Park, Calif. established himself as one of the nation's top young goalkeepers last season, earning the starting role at Cal during preseason camp his freshman year. He had a signature 13-save performance in the Bears' win over USC in the 2019 MPSF Championship semifinal and played for the 2019 USA Junior National Team at the 2019 Junior World Championships in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Weinberg earned recognition as ACWPC All-American Honorable Mention, All-MPSF Honorable Mention and MPSF Newcomer of the Week while posting an 11-11 record, 217 total saves and a .503 save percentage.
Senior 2-Meter Nikos Delgrammatikas will serve as team captain for the Bears this year as voted on by his teammates. Hailing from Athens, Greece, Delgrammatikas earned All-MPSF honorable mention and MPSF All-Academic Team honors during his junior season, recording 23 points, 15 goals, eight assists, 11 drawn exclusions, 11 steals and nine field blocks.
Center Nikolaos Papanikolaou looks to have an impressive sophomore campaign after emerging as one of the nation's top young players in 2019. The native of Athens, Greece earned numerous accolades during his debut season, including ACWPC All-American honorable mention, All-MPSF First Team, MPSF Newcomer of the Year and two-time MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Papanikolaou was the only freshman in the conference named to the All-MPSF First or Second Team after compiling 61 points, 51 goals, 10 assists, 72 drawn exclusions, 23 steals and nine field blocks.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
All four of Cal's matches this weekend will be streamed on Pac12.com/Live. Fans can also follow along with live stats for each game as posted on the schedule.
Fans can receive additional in-game updates and behind-the-scenes information all season long by following the Bears' social media accounts (Twitter: @CalWaterPolo, Instagram: @CalMWaterPolo).