2022 USA Water Polo Division III Collegiate National Championships: Preview

Courtesy: Redlands Athletics

REDLANDS, Calif. – The University of Redlands Men’s Water Polo team has qualified for the 2022 USA Division III Water Polo National Championships following a deep run in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Tournament.

Redlands finds themselves in the Championships for the first time in program history with this year being the third iteration of this two-day national event.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III National Polls will open up play with a semifinal clash against Eastern Champion and No. 5 Johns Hopkins University (JHU) tomorrow, Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m. at the Samuelson Aquatics Center on the campus of California Lutheran University (CLU).

The University of Redlands and Johns Hopkins University met once on the season during the Gary Troyer Tournament, which took place back on October 1.  The Bulldogs cruised to the 11-4 victory (Boxscore | Recap) making it five consecutive years they have beaten the Blue Jays.

In the other semifinal the top ranked and host Kingsmen of California Lutheran University will go against No. 8 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) beginning at noon tomorrow. The winner of the two semifinals will meet on Sunday, December 4 at 12:30 p.m. for the National Championship while the two losing teams will face off in the Third Place Game, also on Sunday, at 10:30 a.m.

N: = National Rank | C: = Conference Rank | T: = Championship Seeding

Redlands (15-15, 5-6 SCIAC) | No. 2 | No. 5 | No. 3

The Bulldogs made the tournament thanks to a pair of upset wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the SCIAC Tournament taking out No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Box Score | Recap) and No. 1 Pomona-Pitzer (Box ScoreRecap). Both wins came on the road and allowed them to qualify for the national championships with a tournament final appearance at CLU (Box Score | Recap), which they lost 8-5.

For the season, the Bulldogs scored 10.2 goals per game (GPG), allowed 9.8 GPG, shot .330 and allowed opponents to shoot .348.  They outscored teams by 17 in the first and fourth quarters but were outscored by 14 in the middle frames.  They also converted on .280 of their powerplays and allowed a .341 conversion percentage, while drawing 13 more penalties (36-23) than their opposition.

The Bulldogs had two All-SCIAC performers in Ron Gvishi (Kiryat Tivon, Israel) and Alec Abrahamian (Glendale, CA). Both were recognized as SCIAC Athletes of the Week on the season.  Gvishi led the Bulldogs with 46 goals and 22 assists. He added 33 steals, 29 sprints won at a .468 percentage. His sprint percentage is seventh in the SCIAC, sprints won puts him fourth, and his 33 steals are tied for eighth most.

Other notable individual stats came from Andrew Higginson (San Diego, CA) who had 44 goals, 18 assists, 37 steals (C: T-6th), 12 field blocks (C: 6th), and 11 drawn exclusions. He also was recognized as a SCIAC Athlete of the Week.  Spencer Clinton (Cypress, CA) had 23 goals, 21 drawn exclusions, and 16 steals.

In goal Liam Murphy (Placentia, CA) had a massive SCIAC Tournament in which he was tied for fourth in conference with five steals, added 30 saves (T: 2nd), a .577 save percentage (T: 1st), 11.00 goals-against average (T: 3rd), and 10 saves per game (T: 3rd).  He was also recognized as a Defensive Athlete of the Week twice.

Cal Lutheran (16-14, 8-4) | No. 1 | No. 3 | No. 1

The Kingsmen like the Bulldogs had to earn their way to qualifying for the Collegiate National Championships, winning three-straight SCIAC Tournament games after finishing the regular season third.

CLU went 3-0 against UR on the season with 9-7 (Box Score | Recap), 11-9 (Box Score | Recap), and 8-5 victories.

Cal Lutheran has the SCIAC’s leading goal scorer in Dillon Goldsmith who has 95 goals (N: 6th) and 123 points (C: 2nd | N: 8th). He is joined by Ben Brown who had 83 goals (N: T-8th), 62 assists (N: 5th), and 145 points (N: 5th). Goldsmith and Brown each had 16 (N: T-3rd) and 13 field blocks respectively, plus 46 (N: 10th) and 44 steals (C: 2nd/3rd) each.

Both Brown and Goldsmith were named 1st Team All-SCIAC.

In goal the Kingsmen have Bo DuBois who has 219 saves (2nd in the SCIAC), a .379 save percentage (T-7th), and a 13.55 GAA (8th).

Johns Hopkins (11-25, 2-14 MAWPC) | No. 5 | No. 8 | No. 2

The Blue Jays beat MIT, who was the top seed in the Eastern Division, 12-11 to earn the Eastern Tournament Title. During the tournament they also took down Penn State Behrend 21-5, and Augustana College 15-14.

The Blue Jays are led by Emerson Sullivan who scored 107 goals, the third most in the nation and the most in the Mid Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC). He also is sixth in the nation in points with 133, second in field blocks with 17, and third with 54 steals. Dado Soares is JHU’s primary creator with 53 assists (C: 7th | N: 2nd).

In goal Kyle Pearson made 295 saves (C: 2nd) and Ian Raley posted a 10.00 GAA (C: T-5th), though he has only seven saves and is not the primary keeper. Pearson and Raley also had 36 and 33 steals respectively, which ranked them second and fourth in the conference. An interesting stat for the Blue Jays is that five different players have recorded saves.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (7-19, 1-10 NWPC) | No. 8 | No. 6 | No. 4

The Engineers qualified for the Collegiate National Championships after beating Austin College 14-10 in the Eastern Championship Semifinals before losing in the final to JHU, 12-11.

The Bulldogs and Engineers’ last meeting was in 2017 when Redlands lost 8-6 at the Aggie Round Up in Davis, Calif. The Bulldogs’ last win came in their second-to-last game with MIT in 2011 when they won 12-7 in a neutral site match-up.

On offense MIT is led by Miller Geschke with 67 goals and 47 assists. Geschke also posted 83 steals which would lead the nation. On defense Luke Apostolides and Adam Ivatorov each drew 41 exclusions. In goal Colin Weaver had 218 saves.

Championship Schedule with Links

Saturday, December 3
Noon – Cal Lutheran vs. MIT – Video – Live Stats
2:00 p.m. – Johns Hopkins vs. Redlands – Video – Live Stats

Sunday, December 4
10:30 a.m. – Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 1 (Third Place Game)
12:30 p.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (First Place Game)

Ticket Information

The championship will be held at the Samuelson Aquatics Center on the Campus of Cal Lutheran. The address is 100 Overton Ct, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 91360.

Admission for the tournament is $12 for the day or $20 for the weekend with tickets available by clicking here. Every game will have a live stream and you can find that here.

Directions and Parking

Directions – May be found at the California Lutheran University web site CLU Map. Parking is located near the intersections of Olsen Road and Mount Clef Boulevard (130 Overton Court Thousand Oaks, CA 91360).

Parking – Parking passes are not required for any of the parking surrounding the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center/Athletic Venues (except in designated Handicap spots). Spectator parking is available in any of the lots surrounding the Cal Lutheran Athletics Facilities.

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