Weekend Action for CWPA NCAA Varsity Men’s Water Polo Top Ten

usa men's water polo
Johnny Hopper returns just in time to revive the Golden Bears. Photo Courtesy: Catharny Hayne

The NCAA men’s varsity water polo season, now in its three week, is in full swing despite conference play still being weeks away.

The University of Southern California (11-0)—top ranked in the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s men’s varsity poll for the third consecutive week—has a match at home Saturday with #6 Pacific, a dangerous enough opponent but one who has not beaten the Trojans since an 8-7 loss in 2015, part of a 51-9 all-time series edge for USC.

#2 University of California-Los Angeles (11-0) will also face a non-conference foe Saturday at home, as the Bruins will take on #13 University of California at Irvine (5-4). Last year, the Anteaters surprised UCLA, taking a 9-8 decision at the Anteater Aquatics Complex in Irvine. UCI is looking to recover from being on the wrong side of an upset of its own; two weeks ago at the Inland Empire Classic at the University of Redlands, the #16 Sage Hens of Pomona-Pitzer (4-3) captured their second-ever win over the Anteaters, when they captured an 11-10 sudden-death overtime win.

Before the Anteaters come to town, the Bruins will also face #7 49ers of Long Beach State University (6-3).

The Cardinal of #3 Stanford University (5-0) welcome sophomore Ben Hallock and junior Dylan Woodhead back from Belin, Germany, where they and Cal’s Johnny Hooper and University of California at San Diego’s Jack Turner competed as members of the U.S. Senior Men’s National Water Polo Team in the FINA Men’s Water Polo World Cup 2018. Hallock and Woodhead come back just in time to face the upstart team of the 2018 campaign. Already in this young season, #5 University of California-Santa Barbara (12-3) has registered major wins. taking down #7 Long Beach State 11-10 on the first weekend of the season, then beating Pacific 13-11 last weekend at the Aggie Round-Up at University of California at Davis. The Cardinal will travel to the Gauchos’ home pool for a Saturday campaign and then will go to Malibu for a match-up with #10 Pepperdine (6-4).


Home of the nations’s #1 team… for now! Photo Courtesy: Angela Kiamco

#4 University of California (9-1) is likely still recovering from the biggest upset of this, or perhaps any season; a 15-14 overtime decision to #8 Harvard. It was the Golden Bears’ first-ever loss to the Crimson; with sharp-shooting Hooper back in the den, they’ll host #17 San Jose State (3-2) at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The loss to the Gauchos dropped the #6 Tigers (5-3) of the University of the Pacific from the #5 spot for the first time since 2015. It will be difficult to get back on track against; a match against #2 UCLA the following weekend will likely not provide relief for the Tigers.

#7 Long Beach State University (6-3)—happy to have Head Coach Gavin Arroyo back from Berlin—are playing UCLA today; they then take a two-week rest before facing Pepperdine.

#8 (T) Harvard University (8-3)—perhaps taking in the enormity of a win over #3 Cal, the highest-ranked opponent ever toppled by the Crimson—are idle until they start Northeast Water Polo Conference play on September 29 against Iona. The #8 (T) Aggies of University of California-Davis (6-3) have already played two scintillating matches with the Crimson; dropping a 15-14 decision on the first weekend of the season and then gaining a measure of revenge last weekend with a 10-9 decision in their own tournament. On Saturday they’ll travel to Riverside for a match against #15 California Baptist (6-6); the Lancers will then face Redlands (3-7) in an afternoon match-up.

Rounding out the CWPA top-ten, #10 Pepperdine faces Stanford on Sunday; it has been a decade since the Waves upset the Cardinal 8-7 in overtime.

Other matches of note: #18 George Washington (8-3) travels to Staten Island to face Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference foe Wagner (5-5); this is a repeat of a 15-14 early season win by the Colonials in the season’s first weekend. These two foes are a rivalry for supremacy of the MAWPC; last season the Seahawks lost to the GW in the MAWPC title tilt.