Sept. 24, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Following a tenth-place finish at last weekend's NorCal Invitational, the Santa Clara men's water polo team earned its highest ranking ever, No. 10, on the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Varsity Poll.
The ranking was well deserved, as the Broncos hung with then-ranked No. 3 California, went to overtime with No. 9 Long Beach State, and defeated No. 14 Air Force and No. 18 UC Davis at the prestigious tournament, whose results tend to mirror the following week's collegiate national rankings.
It's a great accomplishment for the program, but Santa Clara must continue to work. The 2009 season is only two weeks old and Western Water Polo Association rival Loyola Marymount is still favored to win the conference and currently holds the No. 5 spot nationally.
Head coach Keith Wilbur believes this year's team has the best chance ever to dethrone the Lions and win the conference to earn its first ever bid into the NCAA Championship, but there is still a long way to go before December's final four.
The Broncos (7-2) continue the year by getting back into the pool this weekend, hosting the Bronco Tournament at the new Sullivan Aquatic Center. Santa Clara welcomes Cal Lutheran, Whittier, UC Davis, and Redlands in their first home games of the season.
On Saturday, the Broncos open play at 8 a.m. facing Cal Lutheran and will play Whittier at 1:20 p.m. later that day. Sunday, Santa Clara plays Redlands at 9:20 a.m. and will cap off the tournament with a match against UC Davis at 4 p.m.
Cal Lutheran has struggled so far, going 2-6 overall and picking up wins against Concordia's B Squad and Whittier. The Kingsmen have also been outscored by their opponents 104-70.
Whittier has fared a bit better, posting a 4-4 overall record. The Poets have beaten La Verne, Chapman, Occidental, and Fresno Pacific and have scored 71 goals so far this season.
Redlands is 4-6 and has picked up wins over MIT, Harvard, Occidental, and Chapman. The Bulldogs also nearly snuck a victory over UC Davis, but fell 10-9 by sudden victory in the Inland Empire Classic.
UC Davis, which also attended the NorCal Invite and finished 12th, will provide the marquee matchup against the Broncos. The Aggies are 5-4 overall and will be looking to avenge their 9-4 loss to Santa Clara suffered at Stanford.
Senior Jack Wall leads the way for the Broncos with 23 goals in 46 attempts (.500) in just nine games. Three players, senior Liam Farrell, junior Nick Poggetti, and sophomore James Case, each have 13 goals. Sophomore goalie Michael Wishart has 71 blocks, five steals, two assists, and carries a 5.3 goals-against-average.
Admission to this weekend's tournament is $7 for adults, $3 for seniors and children, and free for any high school or college student with identification.
RSVP to the tournament and cheer on the team on their Facebook event page: Santa Clara Men's Water Polo Tournament, Sept. 26, 27. Join it today!