Reigning Winner Nikolaos Papanikolaou Again a Finalist for Cutino Award

Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Reigning Winner Nikolaos Papanikolaou Again a Finalist for Cutino Award

Nikolaos Papanikolaou, the 2022 winner of the Peter J. Cutino Award, was named Monday as a finalist for the third straight year. Joining the University of California junior are USC’s Jake Ehrhardt and Reuel D’Souza of Pacific.

The Cutino Award is given annually since 1999 to the top men’s and women’s collegiate water polo players in the nation. Sponsored by the Olympic Club in San Francisco, it will bestow the 2023 awards on June 3. Women’s nominees will be released following the conclusion of that NCAA season.

Papanikolaou led Cal to its third straight national title. He was the Golden Bears’ top scorer this season with 62 goals over 25 games, leading them to a 23-2 record. The two-time ACWPC Player of the Year led them to their 16th national title as well as the MPSF regular-season crown. He scored seven goals in the final, a 13-12 win over USC. The native of Athens, Greece, was the fourth Golden Bear to win the Cutino Award. The last man to win consecutive awards was Stanford’s Ben Hallock in 2018 and 2019.

Ehrhardt is the 16th USC player to be nominated for the award and is looking to be the first USC man to win the award since McQuin Baron in 2016. Ehrhardt led the Trojans to the NCAA final, losing that heartbreaker to Cal. He scored 55 goals, including 19 multiple-goal games. The fifth-year senior tallied 179 career goals, sixth in program history. Ehrhardt helped USC tally a 20-7 record, including the MPSF Tournament championship.

D’Sousa, a sophomore from British Columbia, adds to the international flair of the finalists. He scored an even 100 points – 54 goals, 46 assists – to lead the Golden Coast Conference. An All-American this year, he was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team. He’s the seventh Tiger named a finalist, all occurring since 2010. He’s looking to join Balasz Erdelyi as a Cutino winner from Pacific, after Erdelyi won the award in 2013 and 2014.

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