No. 1 Bears Finish Homestand Against No. 12 UC Irvine
The No. 1 Cal men's water polo team closes out a four-game homestand Friday when it hosts No. 12 UC Irvine at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears are coming off a trio of hotly contested victories over ranked opponents last weekend, including a 16-15 overtime win over No. 5 Pacific. The Anteaters enter the game at 2-3, with all three of their losses coming against top-10 opponents. UC Irvine also has a victory over No. 13 UC San Diego to its credit. Cal has put on an offensive display so far this season, averaging 22 goals per game through its first seven contests.
CASABELLA NAMED MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cal sophomore Max Casabella was named MPSF Player of the Week on Monday after a dominant weekend in three victories over ranked opponents. Included in his performance were a pair of five-goal games. He had five goals in a 16-15 overtime win over No. 5 Pacific, including the goal that tied the game and forced the extra session with just over two minutes to play in regulation.Casabella had 11 goals overall and seven assists for the weekend.
Center Nikolaos Papanikolaou won the Cutino Award as the top player in NCAA water polo last season while also taking home ACWPC National Player of the Year honors, and it doesn't look like he has any plans to slow down this season. Papanikolaou leads the MPSF with 23 goals after winning the conference scoring championship last year with 68 goals. The three-time All-American also is tied for fourth in the MPSF with seven steals so far. Papanikolaou is the two-time MPSF Player of the Year.
Goalie Adrian Weinberg was an ACWPC Second Team All-American last season and is coming off a summer playing with the U.S. National Team. Weinberg saw time for Team USA at both the FINA World Championships and FINA World League Super Final, and is back in Berkeley as arguably the top returning goalie in the nation. Weinberg led the MPSF last season with 230 saves.
MORE THAN A SUPPORTING CAST
Nikolaos Papanikolaou was the National Player of the Year last season, but the Bears featue extensive depth and talent that led them to the NCAA crown in 2021. Along with Papanikolaou and Weinberg, ACWPC First Team All-American Jack Deely, who led the MPSF in points and assists last season, is also back in Berkeley. Roberto Valera, the 2021 MPSF Newcomer of the Year, also returns along with fellow ACWPC Second Team All-American Max Casabella. Cal features 10 players who scored at least 10 goals last year.
CAL TO HOST 2022 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
Cal's Spieker Aquatics Complex will host the 2022 NCAA Championship on Dec. 3-4. The Bears last hosted the NCAA Championship in 2016, when they defeated USC in overtime in the national championship game. More details - including ticket information - will be announced at a later date.
EVERIST HITS BENCHMARK
Cal head coach Kirk Everist reached a milestone last season when he notched his 400th career win in the Bears' 11-9 victory over San Jose State. Now in his 21st season, Everist features an overall record of 420-127 (.768). Everist won his third career ACWPC National Coach of the Year award last year and third MPSF Coach of the Year accolade.
ABOUT NO. 12 UC IRVINE
• The Anteaters are under first-year coach Dan Klatt, who has coached UCI's women's program for the past 18 seasons
• SO Tyler Padua was named to the Golden Coast Conference All-Freshman Team last year
• SR Zlatan Nikocevic was named All-GCC Honorable Mention in 2021