USC Tops 2020 MPSF Women’s Water Polo Coaches’ Poll

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Stanford won last year's NCAA Women's Tournament with a thrilling 9-8 win over USC, which is the favorite for the 2020 MPSF title. Photo courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Defending conference champion and NCAA runner-up USC placed on top of the 2020 MPSF Women’s Water Polo Coaches’ poll, collecting 33 points and four first-place votes. Winners of four of the last seven conference titles, the Trojans return senior All-Americans Denise Mammolito (29 goals) and Kelsey McIntosh (34 goals) as the veterans under first-year head coach Marko Pintaric.

mpsf-shield-finalUCLA placed second in the poll with 31 points and two first-place votes. The Bruins return three of their top six scorers from last year’s NCAA semifinal team. Sophomore Val Ayala (35 goals) is back as an Honorable Mention All-American, as is sophomore Ava Johnson (20 goals).

Defending NCAA Champion Stanford took third in the poll with 27 points and the remaining first-place vote. Second team All-America goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger and All-America honorable mention Sarah Klass (42 goals) are back as the Cardinal searches for an all-time high eighth NCAA title.

Coming off an NCAA semifinal appearance a year ago, California placed in the middle of the pack with 23 points. Brigit Mulder was one of the MPSF’s breakout stars last season with 42 goals, and fellow junior Claire Sonne came on late last year to score eight goals during the Bears’ final 12 games.

Arizona State was fifth with 16 points. Two key returning players for the Sun Devils are junior Amira Van Buren and sophomore Borbala Kekesi. Van Buren recorded a 29-goal sophomore season, while Kekesi had a three-goal/two-assist breakout game in the MPSF Tournament vs. San Jose State.

San Jose State (11) and Indiana (6) rounded out this year’s coaches’ poll. Back for first-year head coach Beth Harberts and the Spartans is Olga Descalzi Portell, who led the MPSF freshman class in scoring last year with 57 goals. The Hoosiers, under new head coach Taylor Dodson, return everyone from 2019 including sophomore Tina Doherty (42 goals) and Izzy Mandema (28 goals).

First sprint to the 2020 season is January 11, before the first conference game kicks-off on January 31. San Jose State University is this year’s site of the MPSF Championship Tournament (April 24-26), where all seven teams will compete for a conference title and entry to the NCAA Tournament (hosted by Pacific; May 8-10).

Since the inaugural season of MPSF Women’s Water Polo in 1996, the MPSF has captured all 24 national championships.

Rank Team Points (First-Place) 2019 Team Record 2019 MPSF Finish/Postseason
1 USC 33 (4) 28-2 Overall; 5-1 MPSF #2/MPSF Champion/NCAA Final
2 UCLA 31 (2) 24-7 Overall; 4-2 MPSF #3/NCAA Semifinal
3 Stanford 27 (1) 23-2 Overall; 6-0 MPSF #1/NCAA Champion
4 California 23 17-9 Overall; 3-3 MPSF #4/NCAA Semifinal
5 Arizona State 16 14-12 Overall; 1-5 MPSF #6
6 San Jose State 11 10-15 Overall; 2-4 MPSF #5
7 Indiana 6 6-17 Overall; 0-6 MPSF #7

Content reproduced from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

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