No. 3 Pacific Men's Water Polo Visits No. 4 Cal Saturday
No. 3 Pacific at No. 4 Cal - 10:30 a.m., Saturday - National TV: Pac-12 Network (Listings)
The No. 3 Pacific men's water polo team faces No. 4 California in a national televised game at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cal's Speiker Pool. The early season MPSF showdown will air on the Pac-12 Network.
"It's an exciting week for us to go play Cal," head coach James Graham said. "It's our first nationally televised game. Hopefully we'll be able to go out there and put together a good performance."
With the program ranked as high as it has ever been, and a national TV audience awaiting the Tigers Saturday, Graham has maintained perspective for his team with over half the schedule still remaining.
"We need to have a short memory. We had a big win over Stanford last weekend, but that's over. And this game is going to be a big test. But after we play those, we have to move on. For us, it's about making sure we maintain focus and consistent effort."
The Tigers enter their second MPSF contest at 1-0 in league play and 9-1 on the season. Cal is off to a 8-2 start and will be playing in its conference opener.
Both teams are unbeaten outside the top five, each with a loss at the NorCal tournament to Stanford, which is currently ranked No. 4 (in a tie with Cal). The Tigers atoned for their loss to the Cardinal with a home win in their last outing, a 14-12 win at home on Sunday. The Bears also dropped a one-goal decision to No. 1 UCLA in the NorCal semifinals before meeting Stanford in the third place game.
The Tigers were led by MPSF Player of the Week Alex Malkis in net last week, as he recorded 14 saves in the win over Stanford, including six in the final quarter. The Tigers grabbed the lead in the first quarter, and stretched the advantage following a shorthanded save by the senior cage-minder. Pacific held the Cardinal at bay as Malkis' six saves maintained a two-goal advantage.
Offensively, Pacific features a balanced attack, as seniors Balazs Erdelyi, Goran Tomasevic and Kevin Oliveira each posted three goals. On the year, Erdelyi leads the Tigers with 36 goals with Tomasevic adding 31. Junior Alex Obert ranks third on the team with 20, while Oliveira has 17. Five other Tigers have hit double-digits, with sophomores Kristian Laczkovic (13), Aleksandar Petrovic (11), Casey Fleming (10), and seniors Balazs Szabo (10) and Andres Oneto (10) each averaging over a goal per game.
On the year, the Tigers are outscoring opponents 174-73 (17.4 to 7.3 per game).
This season, Cal has tallied 147 goals while allowing 72. Five Golden Bears are averaging over a goal per game, led by Collin Smith with 22.
Following Saturday's contest, the Tigers will head to Irvine, Calif. for the SoCal Tournament, where Pacific will meet No. 15 Santa Clara in the first round.