No. 2 Bears Play Two Ranked Opponents
The No. 2 Cal men's water polo team has a pair of nonconference matchups this week, visiting No. 6 Long Beach State on Thursday before returning to Berkeley to host No. 19 George Washington on Saturday. The Bears won twice at home last week, defeating No. 7 UC Davis and No. 5 USC in the MPSF regular season opener. As the last home game of the season, Saturday will also be Senior Day as Cal honors its class of three seniors.
The Bears will honor Marko Valecic, Joe Molina and Jack Deely for their contributions to Cal's program in and out of the pool during Senior Day on Saturday.
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 he hasn't slowed down this season. Papanikolaou is second in the MPSF with 37 goals after winning the conference scoring championship last year with 68 goals. The three-time All-American also leads the conference with 54 earned exclusions. 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 ranks second in the MPSF with 119 saves after leading the MPSF last season with 230 saves.
The Bears have had assists on 175 of 275 goals so far this season (63.7 percent). Utility player Jack Deely (32) and attacker Martin Szatmary (24) are first and second in the MPSF in assists.
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 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 425-128 (.769). Everist won his third career ACWPC National Coach of the Year award last year and third MPSF Coach of the Year accolade.