The Road to the 2018 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament: Conference Tournament 1st Day Results

Skyler Munatones hopes to lead UC San Diego to a WWPA title. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Day One of NCAA men’s varsity conference tournament play went almost entirely as expected, with a couple of upset wins and a few close calls by favored teams.

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In the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), both Cal—the tournament’s number 3 seed—and UCLA, which is #4, advanced easily. After #5 Penn St. Behrend beat #6 Austin 8-6 for the Nittany Lion’s first-ever MPSF win, the big boys stepped in and asserted themselves. Cal decimated Austin 27-3, while UCLA beat Penn State Behrend 18-1. Both advance the semifinals today; UCLA will face top-seed Stanford at 11 a.m. (PST); a match between Cal and #2 seed—and tournament host—USC will take place at 1 p.m. (PST). All MPSF Tournament action is on the Pac-12 Network; the link for coverage is here.

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The Golden Coast Conference (GCC) bracket was impacted by the absence of UC Santa Barbara; the nation’s #5 team voluntarily skipped post-season play as the result of an NCAA review. This gave top-seed Pacific an easy path to today’s semifinals; they got a bye into the second round and will face UC Irvine, a 10-8 winner over San Jose State, at 11 a.m. (PST). In the other side of the bracket, Pepperdine and host Long Beach State will meet, with the 49ers looking to extend a season-best four-match win streak. That match will take place at 1 p.m. (PST). The GCC Tournament Central link is here.

November 30, 2017; Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, California, USA; Waterpolo: NCAA: UC Davis Aggies vs University of the Pacific Tigers; Pacific Utility Luke Pavillard guarded by UC Davis Attacker Colter Knight Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne- KLC fotos

Luke Pavillard—back-to-back GCC Player of the Year—leads Pacific. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Play in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) tournament also (mostly) advanced according to seeding, with top seeds UC San Diego and UC Davis advancing. The Tritons easily handled the host Sun Birds of Fresno Pacific, taking an 11-4 win to advance to today’s semifinal, a 12 p.m. (PST) match against Air Force. The Falcons—the #5 seed in the bracket—surprised #4 Cal Baptist, knocking off the Lancers 6-5 for Head Coach Ryan Brown’s first-ever post-season win.

wwpa-logo-apr-17The Aggies of UC Davis had to fend off a strong first half by Concordia, reeling off 11 unanswered goals, including nine after intermission, to capture a 19-6. They will face Loyola Marymount, a 12-10 winner over Santa Clara, at 1:45 p.m. today. Matches are being streamed for the WWPA tournament; all stats and video can be found here.

SCIAC

As expected, top seed Pomona-Pitzer advanced to Sunday’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference final, beating #4 seed Cal Lutheran by the score of 15-8. A mild upset took place on the other side of the bracket, as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps continued a strong season by upending #2 seed Whittier 13-6. The Sagehens will host the Stags at 11 a.m. on Sunday for the SCIAC title; this is a repeat match of the 2016 final, won 7-4 by Pomona-Pitzer. All updates for SCIAC Tournament play can be found here.

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Will this man still be smiling come Sunday? Photo Courtesy: Harvard Athletics

In the East, top-seed Harvard and #2 seed St. Francis had byes into semifinal matches for the Northeast Water Polo Conference. Brown, the tournament’s fourth seed and host, needed a last-second goal from Matt Simko to rally past fifth-seeded MIT. In other first-round action, #3 Princeton handily beat Iona 16-7; the Tigers will play the Terriers today at 3 p.m. while the Bears will face fellow Ivy Harvard at 5 p.m. The Crimson are looking for a third-straight NEWPC crown in the first three years of the conference existence; Brown is the only conference team to beat them this season. All action can be found at this link.

Fordham is hosting the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference tournament; a first for the Rams in more than three decades. They opened the 2018 edition is grand fashion, beating Navy 15-8. Waiting for the Rams in the second round is top-seed Bucknell, a 21-6 winner over La Salle; that match will take place at 4:30 p.m. today.

cwpaOn the other side of the bracket, second-seed George Washington advanced against McKendree, as the Colonials won 16-6; the Bearcats earned their spot thanks to a stunning win in the MAWPC-West tournament last week, when they handed Gannon its first loss of the season before winning the title with a 13-12 victory over Salem.

Advancing to a semifinal showdown with George Washington was Wagner. The #3 Seahawks got by Johns Hopkins, registering a 9-7 win to set up the fourth meeting of the season between two teams who played for the MAWPC title last year; while Wagner owns a 2-1 edge in 2018, the Colonials won when it counted, taking an 8-5 win in last year’s championship. Click on this link see how GW, Wagner, Bucknell and Fordham fare today.

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Author: Michael Randazzo

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Michael Randazzo is a freelance contributor at Swimming World focusing on water polo. He covers polo all over the United States for SW and other publications, including the Collegiate Water Polo Association, Skip Shot, The New York Times, Total Water Polo, Water Polo Planet and others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children and roots for St. Francis Brooklyn polo.

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