No. 5 Pacific Men's Water Polo Faces Santa Clara Saturday
The fifth-ranked Pacific men's water polo team opens its 2013 season at 1 p.m. Saturday as the Tigers play host to Santa Clara at Chris Kjeldsen Pool Complex.
The Tigers were tabbed fifth in the preseason CPWA poll, behind four other MPSF teams. The MPSF coaches picked Pacific third in their preseason poll.
"We're excited about going out there and earning our preseason ranking. We want to go out and prove that we deserve it," head coach James Graham said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but our program takes pride in welcoming the challenge."
Expectations for the 2013 squad are high, with no players lost from last year's squad, which finished sixth in the CPWA final poll. In addition to MPSF Player of the Year and Peter J. Cutino Award (the national player of the year) winner Balazs Erdelyi, the Tigers also welcome back a pair of players who redshirted last season, including three-time All American selection Goran Tomasevic.
Erdelyi became the first Tiger ever to win the Cutino Award as well as the first Pacific recipient of the MPSF Player of the Year Award. He also earned his second consecutive ACWPC First Team All-America honor after scoring 83 goals (3.46 per game), with both marks leading the MPSF. The senior attacker finished the 2012 campaign with 21 multi-goal games, including five four-goal outings, four five-goal showings and a pair of six-goal performances. He went for a career-best nine goals in the Tigers' rout of Santa Clara on Oct. 21, the most in a single game at Pacific since at least 1997.
Tomasevic is back after redshirting 2012 following three straight All-American seasons for Pacific. The First Team All-MPSF pick in 2011 tallied 46 goals in 26 games, including 15 multi-goal games, six hat tricks and a pair of four-goal performances.
Also returning for Pacific is junior utility Alex Obert, who scored 51 goals last season for Pacific, earning ACWPC All-America Second Team honors; and sophomore utility Aleksandar Petrovic, who chipped in 42 goals, which garnered him All-America honorable mention accolades. Balazs Szabo, who sat out last season after scoring 14 goals in 26 games in 2011, is also among the key returnees for Pacific.
In net, junior Alex Malkis also earned All-America honorable mention recognition, finishing the year with 273 saves.
Santa Clara enters Saturday ranked number 18 in the CPWA preseason poll.