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Final Four Chosen for NCAA Men's Water Polo Crown -- December 2, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS, IN., December 2. CAL water polo coach Kirk Everist won't be the only rookie headman seeking the men's NCAA water polo championship next weekend.

The NCAA Men's Water Polo Committee announced today the four teams participating in the 2002 National Collegiate championships this weekend at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles. Defending champ Stanford -- coached by first-year man John Vargas -- has made the Final Four.

Pepperdine, winner of the regular season MPSF competition and second to Cal in the tournament, was not chosen.

Stanford finished fourth at yesterday's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, won by Cal. But the committee apparently felt the Cardinal's 22 wins this season were sufficient justification to give them a spot in the tourney.

In the first game Saturday, Stanford (22-5) will play the University of California, San Diego (19-11) followed by California (19-6) versus Queens College (24-3).

Conferences receiving automatic qualification were: Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Collegiate Water Polo Association and the Western Water Polo Association. The remaining team was selected at large without geographical restrictions.

A four-team, single-elimination tournament will be played, with a losers' bracket to determine third place.

Last year, host Stanford University defeated the University of California, Los Angeles, 8-5, to capture its ninth championship.

Since the beginning of the championship in 1969, no team from outside the state of California has ever reached the championship final.

Cal has won a record 11 NCAA Championships and will be seeking its 12th. Neither UCSD nor Queens has ever won before, although the UCSD Tritons lost the finals to UCLA several years ago.

Cal and Stanford have played four times this season, splitting their series. Most recently, Cal defeated Stanford on Saturday in the semis of the MPSF Tournament.


-- Bill Bell