After claiming the crown at the NCAA championships, the blue and gold swept the national postseason awards as well. Six players made the 2021 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-America team, and head coach Kirk Everist was named National Coach of the Year.
Junior center Nikolaos Papanikolaou was named the National Player of the Year in addition to snagging a spot on the All-American first team. He was also awarded the titles MPSF Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the NCAA championship. Papanikolaou ended his season with 68 goals, 35 steals, 75 points and is the first Cal water polo player to claim this title since 2017.
With 103 points, 54 assists and 49 goals, senior utility Jack Deely was also named to the All-American first team. Junior goalkeeper Adrian Weinberg earned a spot on the All-American second team and is the only goalkeeper in the MPSF this season to record more than 20 saves in one game. Graduate student, 2-meter driver Nikos Delagrammatikas was placed on the All-American third team after scoring the tie-breaking goal in the championship game against USC that pushed the Bears to a 13-12 lead.
The freshmen on the team came into their first season with the intention of making a name for themselves and were certainly able to show off their prowess by the end of the season as well.
Freshman attacker Roberto Valera was awarded the title of MPSF Newcomer of the Year and a spot on the All-American second team, along with freshman attacker Max Casabella.
The Cal men’s water polo team was able to push through all of the challenges it encountered as a team and ride the high tide until the end. With all but four players returning next fall, this past season will definitely serve as a crucial stepping stone to greater achievements in the future.
Yuqing Qiu covers men’s water polo. Contact her at [email protected].