Nov. 16, 2005
Santa Clara, Calif. - Coming off of a tough loss to No. 9 Pacific last weekend, the Santa Clara men's water polo team has a chance to prove its abilities and avenge some losses this weekend at the Western Water Polo Association Championships. The ten-team field features top-seeded UC San Diego (22-7) along with No. 2 seed Loyola Marymount (15-15), No.3 UC Davis (15-13), No.4 BYU-Hawaii (12-8), No.5 Redlands (20-11), No.6 Air Force (11-13), No.7 Santa Clara (14-14), No.8 UC Santa Cruz (4-19), No.9 Whittier (15-14) and No.10 Pomona-Pitzer (14-14).
Last year, the Broncos faced a frustrating road in the championships to conclude their 2004 campaign. After a first round loss to UC Davis, the Broncos bounced back to solidly defeat rival UC Santa Cruz 9-3. The win earned Santa Clara a spot in the consolation semifinals, but the Broncos dropped an overtime 12-11 heartbreaker to Whittier. The Broncos then closed the season with a hard-fought 9-6 loss to Air Force in the match for 7th place.
This year the Broncos are determined to make up for those tough losses from last year's championships. The Broncos enter the tournament with an even record of 14-14, which includes impressive wins over No. 16 Air Force, No. 19 UC Santa Cruz and No. 10 Pacific. During the 2005 campaign, the Broncos rose as high as 17th in the national polls.
"Qualifying for our conference championships is an accomplishment. We went two years without going to WWPAs before making it last year." commented Bronco head coach Keith Wilber. "I think last year's team saw how games reached another level of intensity in the playoffs, and I believe this year's team will gain from that experience."
The action starts on Thursday, Nov. 17 when Santa Clara takes on Pomona-Pitzer at 8:30 a.m. at the Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center on the campus of Loyola Marymount University. SCU faced the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer at the Slugfest Classic in Santa Cruz in late September, where they came out on top in a close 10-9 decision. Tenth-seeded Pomona-Pitzer enters the tournament with a 14-14 overall record. Should the Broncos win that match, they will face host and two-time defending WWPA champion Loyola Marymount in a match set for 1:50 p.m.
Tournament action runs through Saturday, Nov. 19, with the championship game to be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of the tournament earns the WWPA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, hosted by Bucknell University, Dec. 3-4.
WWPA Championship Schedule:
Thursday, Nov. 17
Game 1 - 8:30 am - No. 7 Santa Clara vs. No. 10 Pomona-Pitzer
Game 2 - 9:50 am - No. 8 UC Santa Cruz vs. No. 9 Whittier
Game 3 - 11:10 am - No. 4 BYU-Hawaii vs. No. 5 Redlands
Game 4 - 12:30 pm - No. 3 UC Davis vs. No. 6 Air Force
Game 5 - 1:50 pm - No. 2 Loyola Marymount vs. Winner Game 1
Game 6 - 3:10 pm - No. 1 UC San Diego vs. Winner Game 2
Friday, Nov. 18
Game 7 - 8:30 am - Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 1
Game 8 - 9:50 am - Loser Game 4 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 9 - 11:10 am - Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4
Game 10 - 12:30 pm - Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 3
Game 11 - 1:50 pm - Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 6
Game 12 - 3:10 pm - Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 5
Saturday, Nov. 19
9th Place Game - Game 13 - 9:00 am - Loser Game 8 vs. Loser Game 7
7th Place Game - Game 14 - 10:30 am - Loser Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11
5th Place Game - Game 15 - 12:00 noon - Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12
3rd Place Game - Game 16 - 1:30 pm - Loser Game 9 vs. Loser Game 10
WWPA Championship - Game 17 - 3:00 pm - Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10