Sept. 2, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's water polo team will kick off the 2005 season this Sunday at noon as they take on the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal at the Avery Aquatic Center in Stanford.
The Broncos are looking to build off of 2004, a season which saw them post a 10-23 record and finish eighth at the Western Water Polo Association tournament. Santa Clara returns nine of their top ten goal-scorers from last season, and a large freshman class will also figure to make an impact in the pool.
Sophomore Charlie Moore is Santa Clara's leading scorer amongst the 2005 returners, having netted 34 goals and 27 assists last season while starting in all 33 contests. Fellow sophomore Matthew Martin (23 goals and 19 assists in '04) and junior Kevin Starry (29 goals, 19 assists) are also expected to contribute much of the Bronco offense.
"You don't know until you've played a few games who is going to step up and do things, but I think we have a lot of offensive talent out there that we're going to utilize in different ways," said fourth-year head coach Keith Wilbur.
With only three seniors on the team (Grant Allison, Austin Brizgys, and Jon Greco), Wilbur's squad will be led primarily by first- and second-year players, but the experience many of the sophomores like Moore, Martin and Chris Parolin gained in the last season gives Wilbur reason to be optimistic for 2005.
"We had a lot of freshmen who stepped up and played well last season," said Wilbur. "They now have a year under their belts, so I think we'll improve this year."
Among the freshmen that Wilbur expects to contribute right away are River Forest, Ill. native Mark Melnyk and local product and Bellarmine alum Jack Wall. Melnyk, a driver, was named All-American three years running while leading his Fenwick High team to three state titles. Also named a first-team All-American in high school, Wall led the Bells to the CCS Division I Championship in each of his four years there.
"Jack is definitely going to have an impact," commented Wilbur. "He's a first-team All-American, he's a big recruit that we got to come here. I suspect that we have another good freshman class coming in. It's another transition period to see how quickly they adjust to the college game, but I think there is a handful of guys in there who can help us out this season."
The road to success in 2005 will begin with a tough challenge against the Cardinal (23-5 in '04) on Sunday. The 2004 National runner-up, Stanford is led by All-Americans Thomas Hopkins and Peter Varellas. 2004 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year John Vargas begins his fourth season at the Cardinal helm.