As The Women’s Water Polo Season Heats Up, The CWPA Top-25 Sees Movement Up and Down

Remember this? Tiger polo fans are probably missing Kyra Christmas—now training to deliver for Canada in the Olympics. Photo Courtesy: JDMS Creations

The latest Collegiate Water Polo Association’s Top-25 poll saw significant swings in both directions. The biggest move up was by San Jose State, which jumped five spots to #13 thanks to an upset of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) rival Cal in a non-conference match. UC Irvine—which last weekend had risen to third, the program’s highest ranking ever—dropped one-goal decisions to #2 Stanford and Cal and fell back to fifth in the poll.

Pacific experience an even more precipitous drop; a loss to Indiana knocked the Tigers down seven spots from #11 to #18.

This weekend sees almost all NCAA varsity programs open play; in the Top 25, Princeton and Bucknell begin their seasons at the Bruno Classic in Providence, Rhode Island. The last teams to get started are from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC); many of them will kick off next weekend but Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Whittier, two contenders for top SCIAC honors, will open on the East Coast, also at the Bruno Classic.

#1 USC (2-0); the Trojans enjoyed a leisurely warm-up at the Lancer Joust at Cal Baptist, beating the host Lancers and Concordia by a combined 42-4 score. On Saturday USC travels through Los Angeles to Loyola Marymount for a more challenging match; while there, they will also face arch-rival UCLA in an afternoon match.

#2 Stanford (5-0); like their MPSF rival, the Cardinal have started off unbeaten in the first two weekends. Unlike USC, Stanford has actually been challenged, particularly last Sunday, when they had to stave off UC Irvine 10-9 at the Cal Cup. This weekend they hold a tournament for four of the nation’s top 11 teams; they’ll play three of them: Cal, Michigan, UC Davis.

#3 (T) UCLA (8-1); after a loss on their first day of play, the Bruins quickly regrouped, including on a trip to Michigan last weekend and wins over Pacific, Michigan, Marist and Wagner. There’s a match Friday against MPSF foe San Jose State—which could be dangerous—then two contests Saturday at the UCLA Invitational. First at a neutral site in Los Angeles against Fresno State and then back to Spieker Aquatics Center for an exhibition against USC.

#3 (T) Hawai’i (4-0); the Rainbow Wahine already won once on Friday, beating Cal State East Bay 19-1 at the ASU Cross-Conference Challenge. The conferences represented are the Big West, CWPA, the MPSF and the WWPA; Hawai’i will play a representative from each of them: host Arizona State, Azusa Pacific and Princeton. And—for good measure—an Ottawa squad that’s not even in the NCAA. Baring a shocking upset, Hawai’i will emerge unscathed.

#5 UC Irvine (4-2); the Anteaters have played a very tough early season schedule—the most challening in the nation thus far. One-goal losses to Cal and Stanford are all that blemish UCI’s record thus far; Dan Klatt’s team will travel to Los Angeles for a rematch with Fresno State and a game against a dangerous San Jose State squad.

#6 Cal-Berkeley (5-3); it remains a bumpy ride for the Golden Bears. They beat UC Davis last Saturday then dropped a one-goal decision to San Jose State on Sunday. Now they cross the San Francisco Bay to compete in the Stanford Invitational. Lurking for Head Coach Coralie Simmon’s team on Sunday at 11 a.m. (PST) are the Cardinal, defending national champions.

#7 Michigan (5-3); it was a good weekend at home for the Wolverines at their own invitational. They beat three ranked foes, including UC Santa Barbara, and dropped a lopsided decision to UCLA. This weekend it’s back to California and Stanford’s tournament. Big Blue will also face the national champs as well as Cal and UC Davis.

#8 UC San Diego (5-1); no matches last week or this; the Tritons rest up until they host their own invitational next weekend.

# 9 US Santa Barbara (6-3); if the Anteaters have played the hardest schedule in America, then the Gauchos have played the second toughest, with seven ranked foes in nine matches. One that’s given them trouble are the Wolverines, who have already victimized UCSB twice. After taking this weekend off they’ll join UC San Diego at the Triton Invitational.

#10 Arizona State (3-0); a fast start for the Sun Devils; they have matches against Hawai’i and Cal State East Bay on Saturday and Sonoma State and Princeton on Sunday.

#11 UC Davis (3-3); the Aggies get the Cardinal twice in the first three weekends of the season; they’ll also have to face Cal and Michigan at the Stanford Invitational.

#12 Fresno State (2-4); it might appear to be a slow start for the Bulldogs but they’ve played some very tough teams already, including Stanford, San Jose State and UC Irvine—all losses last week at the Cal Cup. This weekend it’s a quick trip to Los Angeles for matches against UCLA and UCI (again). Ouch!

#13 San Jose State (3-4); a stunning 9-8 win over Cal last Sunday is the biggest of first-year Head Coach Beth Harberts’ young career. More challenges ahead for the Spartans; UCLA on Friday; UC Irvine and Long Beach State in Los Angeles on Saturday.

BLOOMINGTON, IN - March 01, 2019 - Goalkeeper Mary Askew #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the match against the Salem Tigers at the Aquatic Center in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Amelia Herrick/Indiana Athletics

Indiana’s Mary Askew came up big in wins over Pacific and Marist. Photo Courtesy: Amelia Herrick/Indiana Athletics

#14 Long Beach State (3-0); a quick start for the 49’ers with wins at home; Saturday it’s up to Los Angeles on Saturday for matches against Loyola Marymount and San Jose State at UCLA.

#15 Princeton; the Tigers travel to Tempe, Arizona to open their season, with four matches in the ASU Cross-Conference Challenge. Saturday are warm-ups; unranked Cal State East Bay and Sonoma State. Sunday it’s #3 Hawai’i and the host Sun Devils.

#16 Loyola Marymount (3-1); the Lions have gotten off to a fast start with only one top five opponent—a loss to Hawai’i. The rest have been all wins; now it’s Long Beach State and the top-ranked Trojans Saturday at the UCLA Invitational.

#17 Harvard (2-0); Wins over MAAC members Iona and Villanova by a cumulative score of 31-9 last weekend in Cambridge gives way to a trip to Providence for the Bruno Classic this weekend and matches against Wagner and Whittier on Saturday at Brown.

#18 (T) Pacific (2-3); the Tigers went 1-3 last weekend at the Michigan Invitational; the biggest setback being a 13-5 loss to Indiana, where the Hoosier pulled away with a 5-0 run in the fourth quarter. A week off will give Pacific Head Coach James Graham time to regroup, but the team’s die is cast; he’s red-shirting his best players until Kyra Christmas returns next season.

18 (T) Wagner (1-3); last weekend in Ann Arbor the Seahawks registered an 18-17 win over Indiana, but als lost to UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and the host Wolverines. This weekend at the Bruno Classic, Wagner has winnable matches against Harvard, St. Francis University and host Brown.

[On The Record with Taylor Dodson, Indiana Head Women’s Water Polo Coach]

#20 Indiana (2-2); Hoosier Head Coach Taylor Dodson got her first ever win with a stunning decision over Pacific, then followed up with a victory over Marist, all at the Michigan Invitational. Indiana takes a weekend off and then travels to San Diego for the Triton Invitational.

#21 California State Northridge (5-2); it’s been a fast start for the Matadors, who beat Azusa Pacific and La Verne last weekend in Long Beach and Cal Baptist Friday in Riverside. There’s also a match against Fresno Pacific on Friday; then next weekend on to San Diego for the Triton Invitational.

#22 San Diego State (1-1); last weekend was a split decision for the Aztecs; a win over La Verne and a loss to host Long Beach State. They take the weekend off before traveling to La Jolla for the Triton Invitational at UC San Diego on February 8 and 9.

#23 Bucknell; the Bison will look to get off to a fast start this weekend at the Bruno Classic, with winnable matches against Austin, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Marist and Siena.

#24 Marist (0-7); looking at the Red Foxes early schedule might give Marist fans a heart attack. What might be helpful is to remember that Head Coach Chris Vidale’s team started off 0-6 in 2019 but finished up 22-16 and in the MAAC title match—for the sixth consecutive year.

#25 Azusa Pacific (1-4); it was a lost weekend for the Cougars in Long Beach, with losses to Cal State Northridge and the host 49ers. This weekend will be even tougher; winnable matches against Cal State East Bay, Sonoma State but likely losses to Hawai’i and host Arizona State.