No. 3 Bears Open Season With Convincing Wins
ANNAPOLIS, MD. - The reigning MPSF Player of the Year looked the part Saturday as the No. 3 Cal men's water polo team kicked off the 2021 fall season with a pair of convincing victories at the Navy Open.
Nikolaos Papanikolaou combined for nine goals – including a career-high six in the first game – as the Golden Bears defeated No. 19 Navy 18-7 before rolling past No. 17 Bucknell 20-8.
Papanikolaou, who was also an ACWPC First Team All-American last season and a finalist for the prestigious Cutino Award as the nation's top player, added four steals against the Midshipmen and three earned exclusions versus the Bison.
"Papa is a big piece of our offense and guys are always looking for him," Cal head coach Kirk Everist said. "It's good to see him get rolling and off to a great start."
Senior Miles O'Brien-Schridde added three goals – including two on penalty shots - in the victory over Navy while recording five assists and two steals against Bucknell. Junior Garrett Dunn had two goals and four steals in the first game.
"Miles was really finding guys," Everist said. "The last few years, he kind of eased into the season and then was playing really well at the end of the year. It's nice to see him playing with confidence right at the beginning of the year."
The Midshipmen kept it close for most of the first half, trailing just 6-4 with 2:38 left in the second quarter. But the Bears scored four in a row to lead 10-4 early in the third quarter. After another Navy goal, Cal tallied eight more goals in succession to blow it open.
The Bears took command early against the Bison and led 10-3 at halftime. Cal then scored seven more times in the third quarter and cruised to the win.
Freshman Wyatt Mundelius scored four goals against Bucknell and finished with five on the day. Fellow freshman Xavier Casabella made his collegiate debut in the cage against the Bison and made nine saves.
Cal resumes play in the Navy Open on Sunday with games against No. 14 Princeton and George Washington.
No. 3 Cal 18, No. 19 Navy 7
Cal 3 5 5 5 - 18
Navy 2 2 1 2 - 7
Cal Goals: Nikolaos Papanikolaou 6, Miles O'Brien-Schridde 3, Garrett Dunn 2, Nikos Delagrammatikas 2, Tommy Kennedy, Jordi Gascon, Wyatt Mundelius, Jack Deely, Joe Molina.
Navy Goals: Ivan Pang 2, Isaac Salinas, Jack Weggeland, Jordan Corpuz, Nathan Duchez, Danny Taylor
Cal Saves: Anthony Rethans 3.
Navy Goals: N/A
No. 3 Cal 20, No. 17 Bucknell 8
Cal 5 5 7 3 - 20
Buck 2 1 2 3 - 8
Cal Goals: Wyatt Mundelius 4, Nikolaos Papanikolaou 3, Joe Molina 2, Nikos Delagrammatikas 2, Warren Loth 2, Jordi Gascon 2, Jake Stone 2, Garrett Dunn, Tommy Kennedy, Jack Deely.
Bucknell Goals: Matt Ryckman 2, Liam Stott 2, Andu Vlasceanu 2, Josh Yardley, Walker Butler,
Cal Saves: Xavier Casabella 9.
Bucknell Saves: N/A