LA JOLLA, CA., Sept. 28. COACH Dante Dettamanti's unbeaten (2-0) and No. 1-ranked Stanford Cardinal water polo team faces perhaps its most challenging road trip of the season when it goes up against last year's NCAA runner-up UCSD Tritons here today.
Stanford then travels to Los Angeles tomorrow to face No. 2-ranked University of Southern California (3-0) in the McDonald's Olympic Pool, and tangles with double-defending Champ UCLA (3-0) on Sunday in Westwood.
UCSD was beaten by the Bruins for the title last year, 11-2, and the Bruin women won the innagural national collegiate water polo championship last May at Stanford, defeating the previously undefeated and top-ranked Cardinal.
The Stanford-SC and UCLA games are both key Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match-ups, as the league winner is guaranteed a berth in the NCAA Final Four come December.
This year's Championships will be held in Stanford's new outdoor pool which received its baptism under fire last spring when it was the site of the women's NCAAs.
Stanford will be looking to add a record ninth title to retiring coach Dante Dettamanti's resume, while Bruin coach Adam Krikorian — who coincidentally
coaches the women's team — will be looking for his second-consecutive title.
Stanford has won nine Championships in the 31 years water polo has been an official NCAA sport, second-most of any program (Cal-Berkeley ranks No. 1 with 11). Stanford and Cal are also the only schools to ever go undefeated throughout the season — but the Cardinal has done it twice under Dettamanti, in 1981 (31-0) and five years later (36-zip). That latter team also holds the distinction of having the most wins in both school and championship history.
Cal's '92 team, with its 31-0 record, is the only other undefeated program.
UCLA has won eight titles, including the first one back in '69. USC has a single title, in '98.
— Bill Bell