Sept. 1, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - While almost everyone on the West Coast will be tucked in bed Saturday morning, the No. 18 Santa Clara University men's water polo team will be hitting the pool in its season opener from the Navy Labor Day Open in Annapolis, Md. The Broncos, ranked 18th in the CWPA Preseason Poll, will play four games this weekend, including contests against fellow ranked squads No. 13 Navy and No. 17 Bucknell.
The Broncos will open up tournament play against the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday morning at 6:20 a.m. PT before closing out the day's action against No. 17 Bucknell at 1:50 p.m. PT. Sunday's action will see SCU meet George Washington at 6:10 a.m. PT before concluding tournament play with a match opposite John Hopkins University at 2:20 p.m. PT.
"It's a good test for us to go out to Annapolis, it will be fun to get to play some different teams," said Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur, the winningest men's water polo coach in SCU history with 53 victories. "They are quality teams, so we will see where we stand and hopefully we will play well against these East Coast teams."
Santa Clara returns a solid nucleus of talent from a 2005 team that finished that season ranked No. 20 in the final poll of the year. Sophomore utility Jack Wall, the reigning WWPA Newcomer of the Year, returns in 2006 after having led the Broncos with 50 goals, 28 assists, and 51 steals in 2005. Also returning to the pool is senior two-meter and Annapolis native Kevin Starry, who netted 10 goals and made 40 steals last season, and will be playing a collegiate match for the first time in front of his hometown fans.
"I usually play 13 guys a game, and we have nine experiences guys coming back and a good freshman class, so we're deeper and faster than we were last year," said Wilbur. "We have some guys who worked really hard in the offseason, and I think we're going to surprise some people. We've got a strong group of guys and the team is looking good."
Following this weekend's action, the Broncos will return home to the Leavey Pool for the annual Alumni Game on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 12 p.m.