Column by Julia Lam
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, October 20. AS political pollsters jostle to cast their predictions in the final days of the 2008 presidential race, the 2008 men's collegiate water polo season sees its frontrunners hold their ground. Southern California, Redlands and Princeton top the latest National Varsity, Division III, and Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) men's water polo polls, respectively, for the second week.
The SoCal Tournament at Pepperdine University proved to be a key battleground, featuring close showdowns between USC, Stanford, UCLA, and California atop a 16-team field. USC defeated Cal (12-7), while Stanford took down UCLA (7-4), to earn berths into the championship final. In two double-overtime showdowns between Northern California and Southern California teams, the Trojans knocked off the Cardinals (8-7) for first place, and the Bears took down the Bruins (12-11) for third.
The National Varsity polls place Stanford at No. 2, Cal at No. 3, UCLA at No. 4, and Pepperdine at No. 5.
In Division III, Johns Hopkins, Pomona Pitzer Colleges, California Lutheran and MIT and Chapman (tie) round out the top 5. Division III No. 1 Redlands also competed at the SoCal Tournament, where they finished 11th after falling to Princeton after four overtime periods (12-11). Pitzer finished 15th at the same tournament, after a sound defeat by Bucknell University (14-4).
Hopkins, host to next weekend's Division III Eastern Championships, comes off a 3-1 tournament record at the Claremont Convergence. The Blue Jays trumped Pomona (10-6), Occidental (13-7), and California Lutheran (10-7), but fell to the Redlands Bulldogs. Days later, Hopkins returned to Baltimore to split a pair of games against Navy (12-15) and George Washington (16-8).
In the CWPA, No. 1 Princeton also climbed six spots in the national polls in three weeks to earn a national No. 12 ranking. Just below Princeton are Brown, Saint Francis, the Navy and Bucknell.
Brown slipped past Saint Francis this week after the Bears' final regular-season game, a win against Connecticut College (17-7), for a flawless 7-0 regular-season record in the CWPA Northern Division.
As political pollsters know, however, polls these days have a short shelf life: less than a week after the October 15 rankings were released, things are already in motion.
This weekend, Princeton knocked off Johns Hopkins (7-5) and Mercyhurst (10-5). But before a standing-room crowd in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, CWPA No. 5 Bucknell swept the Tigers (11-6). Though the Bison own a 4-1 record against the Tigers over their last five meetings, this was Princeton's first 2008 loss against a nationally unranked team.
Bucknell will take on No. 17 Navy on Sunday, while Princeton looks for redemption against George Washington and Mercyhurst.
Stanford will take on Brown after a sound defeat by UCLA (2-12), and Pepperdine will face the Trojans in Malibu.