Four MPSF Teams Lead 10-Team NCAA Water Polo Field

Seven of the 10 teams vying for the 2019 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship were already known after the weekend’s conference tournament champions were crowned. Three more teams were selected on Monday evening to join them via at-large berths.

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation came up big, earning all three available spots with nationally ranked #2 Stanford, #3 UCLA and #4 Cal. The same three teams earned at-large berths in 2018.

The three at-large teams also snatched up three of the top four overall seeds in the tournament, behind MPSF league tournament champion and defending national champion USC.

Rounding out the 2019 field are CWPA #5 Hawaii, #6 Michigan, #8 Pacific, #14 UC San Diego, #19 Wagner and Cal Lutheran.

All are returning members of the 2018 NCAA field with the exception of Cal Lutheran, which replaces last year’s SCIAC representative Pomona Pitzer.

The Schedule

Wagner will face UC San Diego in the first of two opening round matches, while Pacific will take on Cal Lutheran in the other. Both will be played on May 7. The winner of the first contest will play #1 overall seed USC on May 10, while the other victor will face #2 seed Stanford. The other two first round matches pit #4 seed California vs. Hawaii and #3 seed UCLA vs. Michigan. Semifinals are set for May 11, while the championship match will be played on May 12.

All matches will be played at the Avery Aquatics Center in Palo Alto, California. All times on the bracket below are listed in ET.

Automatic Berths

Big West Conference: Hawaii

Record: 18-5 (4-1 Big West); 7-1 at home; Current Streak: W4

How They Got Here: The #2 seed Rainbow Wahine avenged an April 5 loss to UC Irvine (7-6 in Irvine, Calif.) with a 7-6 title match win over the top seeded Anteaters at the Big West Championships on Sunday.

Ranking: #5 in the CWPA poll. The Rainbow Wahine were tied for 6th in the preseason poll, seventh and week 2 and number 5 for 12 of the last 13 weeks, save a stop at #4 on April 3.

Key Wins:

  • 17 of the team’s 18 wins came against Top 25 opponents. Sonoma State (W 18-2 on Jan. 19) was the lone exception
  • X wins came against Top 10 teams
    • #4 Cal (6-5 on March 29)
    • #5 Arizona State (10-7 on Jan. 26); #8 Arizona State (10-8 on Feb. 23)
    • #10 Pacific (14-6 on Feb. 24)

Key Losses:

  • Three of the team’s four losses came on the road
  • Four of the team’s five losses came to Top 5 teams
    • Lost twice to #4 Cal (12-10 on Feb. 23; 10-9 on March 10; Lost to #1 USC (12-8 on March 16); Lost to #3 UCLA (12-8 on Feb. 1)
  • Also fell to #8 UC Irvine (7-6 on April 5)

Key Players:

CWPA: Michigan

Record: 23-8, 6-0 CWPA; Current Streak: W9

How They Got Here: Top seeded Michigan def. #2 seed Princeton 10-6 in the CWPA Championships title match on Sunday. The victory gave the Wolverines their fourth-straight CWPA tournament crown.

Ranking: #6 in the CWPA poll. The Wolverines have been ranked among the Top 10 throughout the season. After spending the first two weeks of the season at #9 followed by two at #8, Michigan planted itself at #6 for 10 of the remaining 11 weeks.

Key Wins:

  • 19 of 23 wins came against ranked foes
  • Posted six Top 10 wins:
    • Three came against Pacific: #8 Pacific (11-9 on Feb. 3); #6 Pacific (11-5 on March 2); #7 Pacific (8-7 on March 16)
    • Two came against #9 Arizona State (6-5 on Feb. 9; 9-5 on Feb. 24)
    • One came vs. #6 UC Irvine (9-8 on Feb. 10)

Key Losses:

  • #1 USC twice (9-2 on Jan. 19; 10-3 on Feb. 10)
  • #3 UCLA twice (9-7 on Jan. 20; 15-5 on Feb. 23)
  • #2 Stanford (21-9 on Feb. 2)
  • #4 Cal (11-7 on March 17)
  • #10 Pacific (12-9 on Feb. 23)
  • #13 UC Davis (12-11 on Feb. 2)

Key Players

  • Julia Seller has netted a team-best 63 goals, followed by Abby Andrews (56) and Maddy Steere (53)
  • Andrews has dished out 70 assists (for a team-leading 126 total points), followed by Steere’s 42 assists (95 total points)
  • Heidi Ritner has played 862 of the team’s 988 minutes in goal. She boasts a .495 save percentage and a 7.52 goals against average.

GCC: Pacific

Record: 17-8, 7-0 GCC; Current Streak: W9

How They Got Here: Pacific went an undefeated 7-0 in conference play and earned the #1 seed in the conference tournament. The Tigers picked up three wins in the tournament, capped by a 13-9 title match win over #3 seed Loyola Marymount, to earn their third straight GCC tournament title.

Ranking: #8; The Tigers have been among the CWPA Top 10 all season, spending the first four weeks at #6 followed by two each at #7 and #8 then three at #10. Pacific

Key Wins:

  • 12 of the Tigers’ 17 wins came against ranked opponents
  • Bested #6 Michigan (12-9 on Feb. 23) and #7 UC Irvine (13-11 on Feb. 22)

Key Losses:

  • Lost three times vs. Michigan (11-9 on Feb. 3; 11-5 on March 2; 8-7 on March 16)
  • Lost twice vs. #4 Cal (9-7 on Feb. 2; 15-11 on Feb. 9)
  • Also fell to #2 Stanford (14-3 on Feb. 23), #3 UCLA (10-7 on March 29) and #5 Hawaii (14-6 on Feb. 24)

Key Players:

  • Kyra Christmas paces the team with 64 goals, followed by Viktoria Szmodics (44) and Mariana Duarte (42)
  • Szmodics has dished out 42 assists, followed by Christmas’ 30 and Duarte’s 27.
  • Clara Vulpisi has spent 748 minutes at goal keeper (of 824), boasting a .499 save percentage and 8.21 goals against average.

MAAC: Wagner

Record: 30-9, 14-1 MAAC; Current Streak: W2

How They Got Here: Wagner earned the #1 seed in the MAAC Championship tournament before besting #4 seed VMI 25-2 in the semifinals and topping Marist 8-4 for the crown on Sunday. The tournament title marked the sixth straight for the Seahawks.

Rankings: #19; The Seahawks have been among the Top 20 throughout the season, peaking at #14 in the preseason listing. The team has spent the last two weeks at #19 after two weeks at #18.

Key Wins:

  • Defeated 7 Top 25 teams, including an 11-10 win over #14 Princeton on Feb. 24.
  • Also topped #19 San Jose State (14-12 on March 16); #20 Indiana (11-2 on March 2); #20 Marist (11-10 on March 15); #21 Marist (16-12 on April 6); #24 Marist (8-4 on April 28); #23 Cal State Northridge (11-10 on March 2) and #24 Bucknell (13-3 on Feb. 10)

Key Losses

  • #6 UC Irvine (13-8 on Jan. 19)
  • #12 Loyola Marymount (15-13 OT on March 15)
  • #15 Long Beach State (13-7 on March 17)
  • #17 UC Santa Barbara (9-4 on Jan. 20)
  • #18 Harvard (15-12 on Feb. 2)
  • #18 Princeton (11-10 on March 30)

Key Players:

MPSF: USC

Record: 26-1; 5-1 MPSF; Current Streak: W6

How They Got Here: The #2 seeded Trojans avenged their lone loss of the season, besting #1 seed Stanford 9-8 on a golden goal, in the MPSF title game on Sunday.

Rankings: #2; USC was ranked #1 throughout the season, until falling to #2 in the April 3 poll, where the team has remained for the last four weeks.

Key Wins:

  • 20 of the team’s 26 wins came against ranked teams
  • Recorded 13 wins against Top 10 teams:
    • Michigan twice: #9 Michigan (9-2 on Jan. 19); #8 Michigan (10-3 on Feb. 10);
    • UCLA twice: #3 UCLA (10-3 on Feb. 10); ); #3 UCLA (9-8 on April 20); #3 UCLA (9-4 on April 27)
    • Arizona State three times: #8 Arizona State (7-1 on Feb. 23); #10 Arizona State 17-3 on April 13); #10 Arizona State (17-3 on April 13)
    • Cal twice: #4 Cal (9-8 on Feb. 23); #5 Cal (8-3 on April 6);
    • Stanford twice: #2 Stanford (10-8 on Feb. 24); #1 Stanford (9-8 SD on April 28)
  • Also defeated #5 Hawaii (12-8 on March 16) and #8 UC Irvine (11-5 on March 7)

Key Losses:

  • The team’s lone loss of the season came against then #2 Stanford on March 30, a 9-8 overtime decision. The loss ended a 37-match win streak for the Trojans.

Key Players

  • Maud Megens leads the team with 63 goals, including 20 multi-goal games. Paige Hauschild added 45 goals, including 14 multi-score efforts.
  • Amanda Longan has appeared in 24 of the team’s 27 games, boasting a 4.4 goals against average.

SCIAC: Cal Lutheran

Record: 21-8, 12-2 SCIAC; Current Streak: W4

How They Got Here: The Regals, which were the #2 seed in the SCIAC Tournament, claimed the league’s automatic berth with a 10-9 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the championship match on Sunday.

Rankings: The Regals have not been ranked in the CWPA Top 25 in 2019. The team occupied the #2 position in the most recent CWPA Division III top 10 released on April 24.

Key Wins:

  • CLU avenged its two conference losses, both of which came to Pomona-Pitzer, in the league title match, winning 10-9 on Sunday. The Sagehens claimed wins over the Regals on March 14 (12-7) and April 10 (7-5).

Key Losses:

  • #15 Fresno State (17-5 on Feb. 23)
  • #21 Cal State Northridge (15-8 on Feb. 19)
  • #25 Azusa Pacific (9-6 on Feb. 23)

Key Players:

  • Lexi Rond paces the team with 57 goals. Nikki Roed (39), Jessica Diaz (33) and Mardell Ramirez (32) follow.
  • Ramirez has accounted for a team-leading 33 assists, followed by Kaitlin Gardhouse (18).
  • Bailey Meyer has spent 816 minutes (of 928) in goal, boasting 314 saves and a 6.43 goals against average.

WWPA: UC San Diego

Record: 21-13, 4-0 WWPA; Current Streak: W5

How They Got Here: The Tritons, which were the WWPA’s #1 seed, won three games en route to the league’s tournament championship, besting Cal State Monterey Bay (20-5), Gannon (20-5) and Fresno Pacific (15-4) to claim the title. The tournament crown is the seventh straight for UC San Diego.

Rankings: #14; UCSD has been ranked among the Top 25 throughout the season, spending five weeks in its current position, including each of the last three.

Key Wins:

  • Posted 7 wins against ranked teams, including an upset win over then #13 San Jose State on Feb. 23 (14-8)
  • Also topped #17 San Diego State (9-5 on April 20);  #20 Cal State Northridge (11-4 on March 9); #21 Marist (9-8 on March 2); #24 Bucknell (11-4 on March 10); #25 Cal Baptist (14-4 on March 30); #25 Marist (12-7 on Feb. 10)

Key Losses:

  • All 13 losses came to ranked opponents
  • Eight losses came against Top 10 foes.
    • Fell to #1 USC (13-4 on Jan. 20)
    • #4 Cal (15-7 on Feb. 22)
    • #5 Hawaii (10-7 on Feb. 3)
    • #6 UC Irvine (11-8 on April 12)
    • #6 Pacific (9-8 on March 3)
    • #7 Michigan (10-5 on March 2)
    • UC Santa Barbara twice: #9 UC Santa Barbara (8-6 on Feb. 23); #7 UC Santa Barbara (4-3 on Feb. 9)
  • Also lost to #12 Loyola Marymount twice (11-9 on Feb. 24; 12-6 on Feb. 15)
  • #13 Indiana (8-7 on Jan. 19)
  • #14 Wagner (11-8 on Jan. 20)
  • Long Beach State twice: #17 Long Beach State (5-1 on March 10); #16 Long Beach State (9-6 on Feb. 10)

Key Players:

At-Large Berths

Stanford

Record: 20-2 (6-0 MPSF); Current Streak: L1

How They Got Here: The Cardinal won the MPSF regular season title with a perfect 6-0 mark. They had won 10 games in a row, before falling to #2 seed USC 9-8 on a golden goal in 3OT in Sunday’s tournament championship match.

Rankings: As the 2018 NCAA runnerup, Stanford entered the season at #2, a position it held until knocking off then #1 USC on March 30. The Cardinal took over at #1 in the April 3 poll and have maintained the top spot for the last four weeks.

Key Wins

  • 19 of its 20 wins came against ranked foes. The lone exception was a 17-1 win over Santa Clara on March 1.
  • 11 victories came against Top 10 opponents, including six against the Top 5
    • #4 Cal three times: (17-10 on Feb. 3;  13-12 on April 13; 11-9 on April 27)
    • #3 UCLA twice: (10-4 on Feb. 23; 7-6 on April 6)
    • #1 USC (9-8 OT on March 30)
    • #8 Michigan (21-9 on Feb. 2)
    • #9 Arizona State (10-7 on March 9)
    • #9 UC Davis (24-8 on April 19)
    • #10 Pacific (14-3 on Feb. 23)
    • #10 UC Irvine (16-7 on March 25)

Key Losses

  • Stanford’s only two losses both came at the hands of USC, a 10-8 decision to the top ranked Trojans on Feb. 24 and the title match loss on Sunday.

Key Players

  • Makenzie Fischer led the MPSF with a team-best 78 goals, including 17 multi-goal games, followed by Aria Fischer (46) and Kat Klass (41).
  • Emalia Eichelberger paced the Cardinals with 122 saves in 53 quarters played, boasting a 7.40 goals against average. Thea Walsh made 50 saves in 32 quarters with a 5.08 goals against average.

UCLA

Record: 23-6 (4-2 MPSF); Current Streak: W1

How They Got Here: UCLA, which was the #3 seed in the MPSF Tournament, finished third with a 7-6 win over #4 seed Cal on Sunday.

Rankings: #3; The Bruins have been ranked #3 all but one week of the 2019 season. They dropped to #4 in the Feb. 27 poll after falling to then #4 Cal 7-6 in overtime the previous weekend (Feb. 24).

Key Wins

  • All 23 of the team’s wins came against Top 25 opponents
  • Notched 11 Top 10 wins
    • Cal twice: #3 Cal (9-7 on March 3); #4 Cal (7-6 on April 28)
    • #5 Hawaii (12-8 on Feb. 1)
    • UC Irvine three times: #6 UC Irvine (10-6 on Jan. 19; 11-6 on Feb. 10); #7 UC Irvine (13-10 2OT on Feb. 16)
    • Michigan twice: #6 Michigan (15-5 on Feb. 23); #9 Michigan (9-7 on Jan. 20)
    • #7 Pacific (10-7 on March 29)
    • #8 Arizona State (12-9 on March 16); #10 Arizona State (10-5 on April 26)

Key Losses

  • USC three times: #1 USC (10-3 on Feb. 10); #2 USC (9-8 on April 20; 9-4 on April 27)
  • Stanford twice: #2 Stanford (10-4 on Feb. 23); #1 Stanford (7-6 on April 6)
  • #4 Cal (7-6 2OT on Feb. 24)

Key Players

  • Maddie Musselman leads the way with 50 goals, followed by Val Ayala (32) and Bronte Halligan (27)
  • Carlee Kapana has played 530 of the team’s 716 minutes in the goal. She boasts 180 saves and a 6.64 goals against average. Jahmea Bent logged 249 minutes, 80 saves and a 6.62 goals against average.

Cal

Record: 16-8 (3-3 MPSF); Current Streak: L2

How They Got Here: Cal finished fourth in the MPSF in both the regular season and the league tournament. The Bears fell to UCLA in the third-place match on Sunday.

Rankings: #4; Cal has been ranked fourth in 13 of the 15 CWPA Top 25 polls. The Bears rose to #3 on Feb. 27 after topping then #3 UCLA, and dropped to #5 on April 3 after falling to then #5 Hawaii (6-5).

Key Wins

  • 15 of the team’s 16 wins came against ranked teams. The lone exception came against RV Indiana on April 14.
  • 7 wins came against Top 10 teams
    • #3 UCLA (7-6 on Feb. 24)
    • #5 Hawaii twice (10-9 on March 10; 12-10 on Feb. 23)
    • #6 Michigan (11-7 on March 17)
    • #10 Arizona State (14-9 on April 20)
    • Pacific twice: #10 Pacific (15-11 on Feb. 9); #8 Pacific (9-7 on Feb. 2)

Key Losses

  • Stanford three times: #1 (13-12 on April 13; 11-9 on April 27); #2 Stanford (17-10 on Feb. 3)
  • USC twice: #2 (8-3 on April 6); #1 USC (9-8 on Feb. 23)
  • UCLA twice: #3 (7-6 on April 28); #4 UCLA (9-7 on March 3)
  • #5 Hawaii (6-5 on March 29)

Key Players

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