No. 1 Bears Ready For Big Splash
The No. 1 Cal men's water polo heads to rival No. 4 Stanford for the annual Big Splash on Saturday to close out the regular sea- son. The Bears defeated No. 14 San Jose State 17-4 last week, moving to 18-1 on the season. Stanford had the week off after splitting results the week before, defeating No. 6 Long Beach State and falling to No. 3 USC. The Cardinal handed the Bears their only loss this season when it notched a 12-11 victory in the semifinals of the MPSF Invitational in September. Cal has already clinched the conference regular season championship and will be the No. 1 seed at next week's MPSF Tournament.
BEARS SWEEP MPSF WEEKLY AWARDS
Junior goalie Adrian Weinberg has been named the MPSF Player of the Week for the second week in a row after his performance during Cal's 17-4 win over No. 14 San Jose State. He notched 15 saves and an assist, anchoring a Cal defense that held SJSU to a season-low four goals in the contest. Freshman attacker Albert Ponferrada, in turn, received the conference's Newcomer of the Week nod, his first career conference honor. Ponferrada led the Bears against the Spartans with five points, scoring two goals and adding three assists. This is the third week in a row that one of the conference awards has gone to a Cal player after Max Casabella was named Player of the Week Oct. 24.
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 ranks fifth in the MPSF with 46 goals after winning the conference scoring championship last year with 68 goals. The three-time All-American also leads the conference with 60 earned exclusions and is in the top-10 in steals and field blocks.
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 is second in the MPSF with 171 saves.
MORE THAN A SUPPORTING CAST
Nikolaos Papanikolaou was the National Player of the Year last season, but the Bears feature 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 431-128 (.771). Everist won his third career ACWPC National Coach of the Year award last year and third MPSF Coach of the Year accolade.