SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University men's water polo team - ranked 13th nationally - is gearing up for the 2010 season, which will open on Sat., Sept. 5, against perennial NCAA power and preseason No. 1 California at the Spieker Complex in Berkeley at 12 p.m. The Men's Preseason Collegiate Top 20 Water Polo Poll has the Golden Bears ranked as the nation's top team.
SCU's early-season schedule will then take the Broncos to Princeton, New Jersey, to play in the five-game tournament hosted by the Tigers. Santa Clara's opening game of the Princeton Invitational (SCU @ Princeton) will be televised live on ESPNU (Bay Area: DIRECTV Channel 208, Comcast Channel 420), Friday, September 10 at 3 p.m. (PT).
"Our strength of schedule is as tough as it has ever been, so it is fitting to start the season with the nation's number one," said SCU head water polo coach Keith Wilbur. "Our team has a lot of depth and experience this year. I think they are ready to play a lot of really good competition. Going against teams like Cal is only going to make us better at the end of the season."
Wilbur also thinks heading east is a good opportunity for the Broncos to improve before WCC play begins.
"We have gone to Princeton the last three years, and it has worked really well for our first tournament of the season," said Wilbur. "It's fun to go to another part of the country and see teams that we do not normally see. Also, playing teams on the East Coast allows us to get some quality games in before we start conference play."
Wilbur's 2010 Santa Clara team will need to replace the scoring threats of graduated seniors Jack Wall, Liam Farrell, Mike Sorgenfrei and Mark Soares. However, the team returns four starters from last season, including: juniors James Case and Michael Wishart and seniors Mitch Klipa and Nicholas Poggetti.
Poggetti was named to the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) 2nd Team last season after leading the Broncos with 79 goals - an all-time single season school record. Poggetti and Klipa were named co-captains along with fellow senior Stephen Hobbs.
"Our team has an infusion of young guys with 10 newcomers. We have a larger roster than we are used to so we have a nice combination of experienced players along with a core group of young guys who will be here for a long time," said Hobbs. "We are anxious to have our first game against Cal on Sept. 5 and continue our season in Princeton. Both will be really good early-season challenges for this team."
After returning from their trip east the Broncos will play twice in the Bay Area at the NorCal Tournament in Berkeley on September 18 and 19 and at the Aggie Shootout in Davis on September 25.
The Broncos will kick off their home schedule on Saturday, October 16, at 1 p.m. against UC San Diego at the Sullivan Aquatic Center on the Santa Clara University campus.