SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For the first time this year, the No. 19 Santa Clara men's water polo team will play at home at the Sullivan Aquatic Center this weekend. The Broncos will host The Rodeo tournament, playing four games over the course of three days from Fri., Oct. 19 to Sun., Oct. 21. The Rodeo will feature 15 games in total and eight different teams, six of the eight ranking inside this week's ACWPC Top-20 Poll.
The Broncos will open up with No. 17 Bucknell on Friday at 5:00 p.m. The Bison are making their first trip westward this season and are playing well, coming off of a 10-9 upset win over No. 16 Princeton last weekend. Santa Clara defeated Bucknell last season 13-6 at the Rodeo.
On Saturday, Santa Clara will take on (RV) Cal Baptist at 1:00 p.m. SCU will continue play on Sunday, hosting Fresno-Pacific at 10:40 a.m. and No. 12 Brown at 2:40. The Broncos defeated Cal Baptist 11-10 last year at the Rodeo while falling 10-4 to Brown. It will be the first time SCU has matched up with Fresno-Pacific since the 2009 season.
"We have been on the road for the first half of the season, so the guys are definitely looking forward to playing some games at home," said Bronco head coach Keith Wilbur. "A good home crowd is always a huge benefit for our team. The guys really like playing in front of their fellow students and the energy our team draws from the fans can definitely make a difference in the game."
After playing 16 games in four weeks, the Broncos have played only two games in the last two weeks. With fewer games on the weekends, Wilbur has raised the intensity of practice and has used the time to tinker with some new ideas.
"I think all four games are going to be good match ups and can be very competitive games," said Wilbur. "We are working on some new things defensively and trying guys at different spots on offense. With so many young players, we are still finding different combinations that work well together and I am still learning where I can put guys that will maximize their strengths."
Tucker Carlson continues to pace the Broncos with a career-high 37 goals on the season. Jimmy Moore has scored a career-high 21, while Theo Nasser has cashed in 16. Moore and Chase Schaaf have distributed the ball well for the Broncos, each assisting on 16 goals on the year. James Rude has set up 13 scores while C.J. D'Arienzo has assisted on 12.
Nasser has continued his outstanding play at two-meters from last year, leading the team with 37 earned ejections. As just a freshman, Evan Chang has done an excellent job spelling Nasser, cashing in eight goals while placing second on the team with 26 earned6 ejections. Wilbur has liked the improvement he's seen from Chang throughout the season.
"Evan has been getting stronger throughout the season," said Wilbur. "He is a real presence for us in front of the cage on offense, and he has really picked up his game the last couple of weeks with more goals, earned ejections and drawing double teams at the 2M position."