Nikolaos Papanikolaou Repeats as Cutino Award Winner; Stanford’s Aria Fischer Adds to Family Legacy

Lima, Thursday August 08, 2019 - Kiley Neushul (L) and Goalkeeper, Ashleig Johnson (R), from USA team play against players from Peru team in Women's Quarterfinal Water Polo match at Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo during Pan American Games Lima 2019. Copyright Vidal Tarqui / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **
Photo Courtesy: Vidal Tarqui

Nikolaos Papanikolaou Repeats as Cutino Award Winner; Stanford’s Aria Fischer Adds to Family Legacy

The University of California’s Nikolaos Papanikolaou has been named the Peter J. Cutino Award winner for the second straight year. The women’s award went to Stanford’s Aria Fischer, who joins older sister Makenzie in winning the award.

The honor, given annually to the top college water polo player, was awarded Saturday night at a ceremony hosted by the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Papanikolaou is the seventh Golden Bear to win the award and the first to repeat as winner. Just six male players have won the award more than once. A four-time All-American, he beat out finalists Reuel D’Souza of Pacific and Jake Ehrhardt of USC.

Papanikolaou scored 62 goals, drew 80 exclusions and ranked in the top 10 nationally in steals and field blocks. The Greek international scored seven goals in the NCAA final to help Cal rally past USC, 13-12.

Papanikolaou thanked, among others, his father Stavros, in his acceptance speech.

“When I was nine years old, my dad came up to me and said, ‘I think I found a sport more suitable for you,'” Papanikolaou said. “I had never heard of water polo before, but I went for it. For the next eight years, he would drive me and my brother to practice every day, spend four or five hours waiting for us to finish and drive us back home. I’m so grateful and I love and appreciate him because there is a zero percent chance I’d be playing water polo, let alone be here with you today if it wasn’t for him.”

Aria Fischer followed in the footsteps of her sister, Mackenzie Fischer, the winner of the 2019 and 2022 awards. She’s the seventh players in Stanford history to win the Cutino Award.

The ACWPC player of the year led the Cardinal to their ninth NCAA title and second in a row, avenging a defeat to USC. It’s a third NCAA title for Aria Fischer, who was also on the team in 2019.

The NCAA Tournament MVP led Stanford with 71 goals, 45 assists and 116 points. She won the award over teammate Ryann Neushul and USC’s Tilly Kearns.

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