Who is going to be No. 1 at the end of the women's NCAA water polo season? Good question!
Teams are starting to gear up for the 2013 season, finding out who will compete in the NCAA Women's Water Polo tournament four months later (May 10-12) in Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University will host the competition, marking the first time the event will be held in the northeastern part of the United States.
Stanford has won the previous two women's NCAA Championships. Will the Cardinal be able to make it a three-peat? Or will another powerhouse–such as UCLA, USC or UC Irvine–be able to dethrone them? It promises to be an interesting season.
In this portion of the women's NCAA water polo preview, Swimming World will take a look at the 2013 schedule. In our next report, we will preview the top teams to see who is returning and what the season will perhaps look like.
Tournament action begins the weekend of Jan. 19-20. Some of the tournaments to look forward to:
Jan. 19-20: Michigan Kick-Off featuring Michigan, UCLA, San Jose State, Indiana, Colorado State and San Diego State
Jan. 19-20: LMU Opening Weekend tournament with Loyola Marymount, California Baptist, Cal State San Bernardino and UC Santa Barbara
Jan. 25-27: UCSB Winter Classic featuring UC Santa Barbara, Azusa Pacific, Concordia, California Baptist, Sonoma State, Arizona State, UCLA and Pomona-Pitzer.
Feb. 2-3: Stanford Invitational (teams to be announced)
Feb. 8-9: Princeton Invitational with Princeton, California, NYAC, Villanova, George Washington and Harvard
Feb. 9-10: UCSD Triton Invitational featuring UC San Diego, Arizona State, UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount and San Diego State
Feb. 23-24: UCI Invitational with UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, California, Arizona State, Loyola Marymount, San Diego State and San Jose State
There will be plenty of individual matches as well for water polo fans to enjoy. Harvard will be traveling west to meet Stanford March 22 and UC Berkeley the next day, UCLA takes on Stanford in Palo Alto April 5, Loyola Marymount visits UCLA April 12, Stanford will be at USC April 13, Stanford competes against Loyola Marymount April 14, and USC meets UCLA April 20. Iona, who qualified for last year's NCAA tournament, will start out with the Harvard Invitational Feb. 2-3, dueling Harvard and Villanova.
Regional championships will follow later in April, leading up to the selection of the eight teams making up the 2013 NCAA Championship bracket. Major conference championships take place the weekend of April 26-28 with the MPSF Championships in Berkeley, Calif.; Big West Tournament in Irvine, Calif.; and WWPA Championships in Santa Clara, Calif.