SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Ranked No. 15 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) top 20 to begin its 2012 campaign, the Santa Clara University men's water polo team went on to have four players honored by the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA), played 18 games against other top 20 programs, and celebrated the careers of senior goalkeeper John Nash (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte HS) and senior driver C.J. D'Arienzo (Santa Clara, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS).
Santa Clara maintained a top 20 ranking throughout the regular season, using its two-meter hole-sets to generate the bulk of its offensive production. The Bronco attack went through redshirt junior co-captain Theo Nasser (San Mateo, Calif./Aragon HS), junior Tucker Carlson (Stockton, Calif./St. Mary's HS) and true freshman Evan Chang (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola HS).
Carlson led the Broncos in goals and earned co-WWPA Player of the Week honors following an outstanding performance in the season-opening Inland Empire Tournament held at Redlands, Calif. in early September. The Broncos got off to a 3-1 start.
Carlson (All-WWPA Honorable Mention), junior driver Jimmy Moore (All-WWPA Second Team) and freshman utility James Rude (WWPA All-Freshman Team) were recognized among the league's top players at season's end. Nasser would earn WWPA All-Tournament Team honors in November as well.
"We had really small numbers in our junior and senior classes this year," said Santa Clara Head Coach Keith Wilbur, the program's all-time winningest coach. "We had some older guys that redshirted, then some unexpected injuries, which actually provided the opportunity for younger players to gain valuable experience a little sooner than normal. The older guys who did play, did an excellent job leading this group and helping those younger guys, and the team, develop and improve as the season moved forward."
The Broncos finished the year 10-20 overall and 7-11 within the WWPA. The fact SCU maintained a national ranking despite a sub-.500 overall record is a testament to matching up with some of the nation's best teams, which included the likes of No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Cal, No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Pacific and No. 7 UC Santa Barbara.
"Due to our conference and our location, we are always going to see plenty of good competition," said Wilbur. "Some years may be tougher than others but that always gives us the opportunity to see where we stand and to improve. I thought this year's team relished in those opportunities. With the majority of our guys coming back, that bodes well for next year."
Wilbur's starting lineup in 2012 featured four underclassmen - all expected to return in 2013. The young Bronco squad narrowly missed a top-four finish in the WWPA Championships, losing to 18th-ranked UC Davis 6-5 in opening round play at Whittier College in East Los Angeles. Nash and sophomore goalkeeper Matt Pritchett (San Mateo/Junipero Serra HS) split time throughout the year, anchoring a defense that showed marked improvement leading up to, and during the Championships.
The team's young lineup provided additional speed, resulting in more goal-scoring opportunities through its counter-attacks, something SCU hopes to build on in 2013. The Broncos will also benefit from the activation of nine redshirts next fall - six freshman, one sophomore and two upperclassmen.
"The team faced some difficult circumstances this year, but had the right attitude and a good approach," said Wilbur. "The guys who were able to play gained valuable experience and we also have some talented players who sat out coming back. I think next year's team has the potential to jump up in the standings, both within our conference and nationally."
November 18, 2012 Bronco Men's Water Polo Finishes Sixth at WWPA's
November 17, 2012 Men's Water Polo Takes Down Whittier on Day Two of WWPA's
November 16, 2012 Water Polo Falls to UC Davis in First Round of WWPA's
November 14, 2012 Three Broncos Honored by WWPA
November 11, 2012 Men's Water Polo Falls on Senior Day to No. 16 UC Davis
November 10, 2012 Water Polo Falls 15-8 at No. 4 Cal
November 4, 2012 Water Polo Falls to No. 3 Stanford
November 3, 2012 Bronco Water Polo Unable to Take Down No. 10 UC San Diego
November 2, 2012 Casidhe McClone Sets High Goals for the End of the Water Polo Season
October 31, 2012 James Rude Making a Splash His Freshman Year for the Broncos
October 27, 2012 Water Polo Can't Take Down No. 12 LMU
October 26, 2012 Men's Water Polo Hosts LMU This Saturday
October 21, 2012 Water Polo Splits Two Games on Final Day of The Rodeo
October 20, 2012 Broncos Ride Good Defense Past Cal Baptist at The Rodeo
October 19, 2012 Water Polo Falls to Bucknell in The Rodeo Opener
October 18, 2012 Men's Water Polo to Host The Rodeo This Weekend
October 13, 2012 Broncos Fall to No. 6 Pacific on the Road
October 12, 2012 Water Polo Travels to Pacific, Hosts Alumni Game This Weekend
October 7, 2012 Water Polo Can't Hold Down No. 13 Air Force, Fall 14-9
October 5, 2012 Bronco Water Polo Heads to Colorado to Face Air Force
September 30, 2012 Broncos Lose to No. 16 Princeton and No. 12 UC Davis on Final Day of SoCals
September 29, 2012 Water Polo Falls to Two Top-10 Teams on Opening Day of SoCals
September 28, 2012 Bronco Water Polo Heads South for SoCal Tournament
September 27, 2012 Water Polo's Kochalko: Santa Clara is the Perfect Fit For Me!
September 23, 2012 Water Polo Wraps-Up Three-Win Weekend at Aggie Shootout
September 23, 2012 Water Polo Wins Two in First Day of Aggie Shootout
September 21, 2012 Water Polo Travels to Davis for Davis Shootout
September 16, 2012 Broncos Split Two Games on Final Day of NorCals
September 15, 2012 Water Polo Falls to No. 4 Stanford and No. 12 Davis
September 14, 2012 Water Polo To Play at Stanford in NorCals This Weekend
September 12, 2012 Tucker Carlson Named WWPA Co-Player of the Week
September 9, 2012 Men's Water Polo Finishes Opening Weekend with 3-1 Record
September 8, 2012 Men's Water Polo Takes Two Games To Open Season
September 6, 2012 Men's Water Polo Ready to Open 2012 Season at Inland Empire Tournament
September 4, 2012 Bronco Water Polo Has Successful Scrimmages vs. Cal and Pacific
August 1, 2012 Summer For SCU Men's Water Polo
June 28, 2012 Santa Clara Men's Water Polo Announces 2012 Schedule
October 25, 2011 Michael Wishart Breaks Santa Clara Blocks Record
October 24, 2011 Catching Up With Kyle Surber