Four Tigers Named MPSF, Graham Coach Of The Year For No. 1 Pacific Men's Water Polo
Four student-athletes on the No. 1 University of the Pacific men's water polo team earned All Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors, and James Graham was named Coach of the Year, the MPSF Announced Tuesday.
Seniors Balazs Erdelyi, Alex Malkis and Goran Tomasevic each earned First Team honors, while junior Alex Obert was named Honorable Mention.
Tomasevic and Erdelyi each earned All-MSPF honors for the fourth time, as Erderlyi earned his third-straight First Team after being a second team honoree as a freshman, while Tomasevic was a First Team pick in 2010 and 2011, an Honorable Mention honree as a freshman in 2009 and redshirted last season.
Malkis and Obert each was named all-MPSF for the second time, as Malkis was an honorable mention pick in 2012, while Obert earned Second Team honors last season.
Erdelyi, last seasons Cutino Award winner as the national player of the year, followed up his stellar 2012 campaign by tying the program's single-season goal record with 85. Only four players in MPSF history have found the back of the net more in a single season, with Erdelyi still having two games remaining. He ranks third all-time in scoring at Pacific with 276 career goals, six back of second. Erdelyi sits second in MPSF this season at 3.27 goals per game.
Tomasevic added 62 goals this season in his return to the pool after redshirting last year. He sits eighth in MPSF in scoring at 2.48 per game. Tomasevic's 198 career goals is fifth all-time at Pacific.
Malkis was steller in net for Pacific, as he turned in 12.85 saves per game, second in MPSF. He posted 19 saves against Stanford on Sept. 21 at the NorCal tournament, while adding 14 against the Cardinal in the MPSF regular season Pacific victory. He turned away 16 shots in Pacific's upset of then-No. 1 USC on November 2. Against No. 2 UCLA, in the must-win MPSF Tournament Third Place game, Malkis made 13 saves, including a pair of five-meter penalty stops, and a last-second flurry to preserve the one-goal win and sent Pacific to the NCAA Tournament. He ranks second all-time at Pacific in saves with 1,028 career stops, 33 back of the Tigers' career record.
Obert, a Second-Team All-American last season, scored 40 goals in 26 games, which ranked 19th in MPSF. With Tomasevic and Obert both primary centers, Obert shuffled between a variety of different roles to have both players in the pool.
Graham's accolades mark the first time a Pacific coach has been named Coach of the Year. He was the clear choice having turned the Pacific program into a national championship contender. In a national landscape historically dominated by the 'big four,' Graham and his Tigers broke through by beating USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal in the same season for the first time in program history.
The Tigers (22-4) have clinched their best season season already, with their highest win total, first MPSF regular season title, first time with the No. 1 ranking, and the program's second NCAA bid. Pacific is the second seed at the NCAA Tournament, and are assured a finish no worse than fourth. The 1993 team holds the Tigers only other NCAA bid, finishing fifth.
Pacific faces the winner of No. 3 Stanford and SCIAC champion Whittier in the NCAA semifinals at 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Stanford and Whittier meet on Thursday. The winner of the NCAA semis advances to the NCAA title game at 3 p.m. Sunday. The NCAA Tournament, and its two play-in games will be held at the Avery Aquatics Center at Stanford.