News & Notes from the Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Offseason

With the 2020 collegiate women’s water polo season beginning in earnest this weekend, SwimSwam breaks down the top headlines from the offseason.

A New Conference Home

UC San Diego is in its first season in the Big West after winning seven-straight titles in the Western Water Polo Association. UCSD wrapped up its time in the WWPA on a 45-match league win streak.

The addition of the Tritons makes the Big West a seven-team league. It also changes the format of the conference tournament to give just the regular season champion a bye to the semifinals.

New Faces in the Coaching Ranks

  • Carthage – Ryan Castle. Castle, who was head coach at Indiana from 2017 to 2019, was named the head coach of the Lady Reds on July 16, replacing Laura Coffman.
  •  Grove City – Jocelyn Bernhardt. Bernhardt, an Honorable Mention All-American and a four-year starter for the Wolverines, was tabbed as head coach after spending the 2018 season as an assistant coach. Bernhardt replaces CWPA Division III Coach of the Year Alyssa Hunt, who stepped down in August to become the program director for the Alberta Water Polo Association.
  • Indiana – Taylor Dodson. Dodson, who was an assistant coach with the Hoosiers for the past two seasons, was named head coach in June, following the departure of Castle, whose contract was not renewed.
  • LIU Brooklyn – Gabby Juarez. In Oct. 2018, LIU announced the addition of women’s water polo as a varsity sport and also named Juarez as the program’s inaugural head coach. Juarez came to LIU after a year as the coach with the Brooklyn Hustle Water Polo Club and Mako Water Polo Club in New York City.
  • San Jose State – Beth Harberts. Harberts was tabbed as head coach of the Spartans in August after spending the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach with the men’s and women’s water polo teams. Harberts, who was a two-time All-American at SJSU, joined the Spartan coaching staff in 2015, first as a volunteer assistant for the men’s team.
  • Siena – Alex Williams. Williams, who was an assistant coach with the Iona men’s and women’s water polo teams in 2018-19, was named as the seventh head coach in the Saints’ water polo history in October. Williams takes over for Tamara Perea, who resigned in August to take a position as assistant coach on the Fresno State coaching staff.
  • St. Francis Brooklyn – Alana Burgess. Burgess, who was an assistant coach for the Terriers in 2019, was promoted to head coach in September. Burgess takes over for Megan Husak, who spent seven seasons as head coach.
  • USC – Marko Pintaric. Pintaric is in his first full season as head coach of the Trojans after taking over as interim head coach in March when Jovan Vavic was fired amidst the college admissions scandal. USC removed the interim tag on Pintaric in August and he went on to lead the Trojan men to an NCAA runnerup finish in December.
  • Wagner – Ciaran Wolohan. In August, Wolohan was named interim head coach for the 2019-20 men’s and women’s seasons. A former Seahawk men’s player, Wolohan was an assistant with the Wagner men’s team in 2018 and women’s team in 2019. He follows Chris Radmonovich as head coach after his departure for a career in private business.

Poll Position

In addition to the national poll, which was released on Wednesday, four of the seven women’s water polo conferences have announced their preseason polls.

Golden Coast Conference

The Pacific Tigers, which have won the last two regular season conference crowns and the last three tournament titles, were picked first in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. Pacific went 18-9 and 7-0 in conference play in 2019, while extending their league win streak to 21 games.

Loyola Marymount earned the final first place vote in the poll and checked in at second in the rankings. The Lions lost 13-9 to Pacific in the GCC Championship match, capping a 21-10 season.

School (First Place Votes) Points
Pacific (7) 49
Loyola Marymount (1) 42
Fresno State 38
San Diego State 31
Azusa Pacific 24
Cal Baptist 20
Santa Clara 11
Concordia (Irvine) 9

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Wagner, which won its sixth-straight MAAC Championship title in 2019, again topped the league’s preseason poll, but secured just five of the nine first place votes. The Seahawks won a school record 30 matches, including 14 conference wins and the league’s regular season title.

Marist, which fell 8-4 to Wagner in the conference championship match last year, was just one point behind the Seahawks in the preseason poll, while also grabbing four of the nine first place votes. The Red Foxes went 22-16 in 2019, including a 12-2 mark in conference action.

School (First Place Votes) Points
Wagner (5) 77
Marist (4) 76
Iona 56
La Salle 51
VMI 42
Villanova 39
Siena 23
St. Francis Brooklyn 21
LIU Brooklyn 20

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation

USC, which was named the #1 team nationally heading into the 2020 season, also was picked to win the MPSF crown. The Trojans, which went 28-2 and 5-1 in the league in 2019 on the way to an NCAA runnerup finish, earned four of the seven first place votes.

UCLA, which finished third in the conference a year ago, was picked second and garnered two first place votes. The Bruins went 24-7, including a 4-2 mark in the MPSF, en route to an NCAA semifinal berth.

Defending NCAA champion Stanford, which posted a 23-2 mark and a perfect 6-0 mark in the MPSF, ranked third and earned the final first place vote. The Cardinal topped USC 9-8 in the national championship match.

Cal, which rounded out an all-MPSF NCAA semifinal field, was picked fourth in the league. The Bears went 17-9 in 2019, including a 3-3 MPSF record.

School (First Place Votes) Points
USC (4) 33
UCLA (2) 31
Stanford (1) 27
Cal 23
Arizona State 16
San Jose State 11
Indiana 6

Western Water Polo Association

The WWPA will have a new champion in 2020 after the departure of UC San Diego, which won seven straight league crowns.

Hopping in the driver’s seat is Cal State East Bay, which brings back the league’s Co-Player of the Year in Auriel Bill. The Pioneers earned four of the conference’s eight first place votes. Easy Bay went 15-15 last year and finished third at the league championships.

Fresno Pacific, which was the conference’s tournament runnerup in 2019 falling to UCSD 15-4, was picked second and garnered three first place votes. The Sunbirds went 10-20, including a 4-2 conference mark.

Salem, which is heading into its second season in the WWPA, earned the final first place vote. The Tigers went 14-14 in 2019.

School (First Place Votes) Points
Cal State East Bay (4) 46
Fresno Pacific (3) 41
Salem (1) 29
Gannon 26
Sonoma State 26
Cal State Monterey Bay 24
Mercyhurst 18
McKendree 14

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