Almost a Wrap! 2020 Swimming World Women’s Water Polo Conference Previews Are Live

May 11, 2019; Avery Aquatic Center, Palo Alto, CA, USA; Collegiate Women's Water Polo: NCAA Semi Finals: USC Trojans vs California Golden Bears; Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne
Remember this? The scene at NCAAs last May at Avery Aquatic Center. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

In Swimming World Logowhat may appear to be a long time coming, Swimming World’s previews of the six conferences that will send teams to the 2020 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament in early May are now live. Following are links to our 2020 conference previews. Winners are predicted by the various preseason polls voted on by each conference’s coaches.

The Big West: UC Irvine

The Collegiate Water Polo Association: Michigan

The Golden Coast Conference: Pacific

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: Wagner College

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation: University of Southern California

The Western Water Polo Association: Cal State East Bay

Wait; are there only SIX conference previews? As they say in the Midwest: You betcha!

As was the case with the 2019 men’s season, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) will not participate in this year’s women’s national championship tournament, to be held May 8-10 at the University of the Pacific.

ucla-goalie-rubin

UCLA’s Georgia Phillips Photo Courtesy: Minette Rubin

The SCIAC has forfeited its berth in the major tournament for a decisive role in the new championship, the 2020 Division III Collegiate Water Polo National Championship.

[USA Water Polo Division III National Championship Set to Begin in 2019-20]

This new format, which will be a Final Four model like the NCAA men’s tournament that prevailed from 1995 until it was expanded to six teams in 2013 and is now eight. It will include the winner and runner-up from the SCIAC championship—to be held May 1-3—and the winner and runner up from the 2020 CWPA Division III Championships, which will take place at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc., on April 17-19.

As with the men’s bracket last year, this means an imbalance in the NCAA format; only nine teams will qualify for this year’s national tournament, and one of the play-in matches will be eliminated.

[SW Polo Roundtable With Jen Dubow, John Abdou & Dan Sharadin On Biggest Issues Facing The Sport]

The reason for the delayed roll out of conference previews—in 2019 all previews were completed by the end of January—is two-fold. One is a slightly different format which was put forth by Bill Cohn, who covers the West Coast polo scene for Swimming World and contributed previews on the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and the Big West conference.

The other is timing; as in years past there have been multiple start dates for women’s play. The first major West Coast tournament of the season was held at UC Santa Barbara on January 17-19; the first big tournament on the East Coast was January 31 – February 2 at Brown.

LIU Women’s Water Polo vs Brown University. - Photo By: KEITH NORDSTROM

LIU’s new women’s water polo squad. Photo Courtesy: Keith Nordstrom

Another consideration for 2020; in an Olympic year, there have been a number of roster changes as a result of American and foreign-born players red-shirting this season to prepare for Olympic competition.

[CWPA’s Preseason Women’s Water Polo Poll is Out – And Swimming World Has Lots to Say About It]

And there’s still more to come. Play among teams in the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s DIII conference—which comprises ten teams in separate East and West brackets—will not fully get underway until next weekend. This group has no connection to the NCAA tournament, but is crucial due to the inclusion of two CWPA DIII teams in the national DIII tournament, to be held from May 8-9 at the winner of the SCIAC championship.

For good measure, we’ve also previewed the SCIAC, which represents some of the country’s best DIII teams. The conference winner—Cal Lutheran—was also picked by conference’s water polo coaches.

To keep track of how the nation’s top teams and conference are progressing, look for Swimming World’s weekly CWPA Top-25 report.

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