Parity, Upsets, Records Mark First 5 Weeks of College Water Polo

With five weeks of matches and most of the major tournaments in the books, the only surety is that anything can happen. Three #1 teams, each suffering a loss while owning the top spot among 35 upsets, and 15 overtime affairs have highlighted the year thus far.

That is not to speak of a coaching milestone in the footsteps of a legend and school scoring records falling.

Parity

  • There have been three #1 teams in the five polls thus far in 2019.
    • Defending national champion USC took the top spot in the preseason poll and after an idle opening weekend maintained the ranking in the Sept. 11 poll.
    • Stanford assumed the #1 ranking on Sept. 18 as the Trojans fell to #4 UC Santa Barbara.
    • The Gauchos kept rolling, downing Stanford on Week 3 to grab their first ever #1 ranking at 13-0 on Sept. 25 and put a non-Pac-12 (MPSF) team atop the poll for the first time since Pacific in 2013.
    • UC Santa Barbara stumbled with two losses on Week 4, falling to #4 Pacific and #2 UCLA, opening the door for So Cal Invitational champion and 9-1 Stanford to regain the top position in the poll.
  • Thus far there have been 35 upsets of ranked teams, including 16 which saw Top 10 teams fall.
    • Five came on Week 1, including two at the hands of then #7 UC Santa Barbara, which defeated #4 Cal and #5 Long Beach State. #9 UC San Diego also suffered an upset loss, falling to #13 UC Irvine 5-4.
    • The Gauchos knocked off #1 USC the following week among 10 Week 2 upsets, including three involving Top 10 teams.
    • #2 UCSB topped #1 Stanford among five Week 3 upsets. #8 Cal also recorded a Top 10 upset win, defeating #7 UC Davis 14-10.
    • Eleven upsets came as 16 ranked teams battled it out at the So Cal Invitational. Seven of those results saw Top 10 teams fall.
    • On Week 5, #16 Cal Baptist lost twice, while #20 Whittier and #4 UC Santa Barbara also fell. UCSB dropped a 10-9 decision to #5 USC in the lone Top 10 upset.
  • Fifteen matches have gone to overtime, including a two sudden death affair between #11 UC San Diego and #9 UC Davis on Week 4. The Tritons won 11-9 over the Aggies. On Week 5, MIT defeated Iona 10-9 in sudden death. Ranked teams prevented upsets in seven of the 15 overtime affairs.

Milestones

  • UC Irvine head coach Marc Hunt notched his 200th career victory on Sept. 14 vs. Cal Baptist. The win ranks him second behind legendary coach Ted Newland‘s 714 victories with the Anteaters.
  • UC Santa Barbara, which achieved its first #1 ranking in program history on Sept. 25,  put together its best ever start to the season at 15-0, marking the program’s longest win streak in more than 40 years.

Records

  • Concordia Irvine’s career and season goals records fell on Week 5. Marius Jakimcikas upped his season tally to 65 goals, besting the previous record of 50 set by Angel Rojas in 2017. Patrik Zsiros passed Spencer Hosch (103, 2015-17) for the Eagles’ career scoring record.
  • UC Irvine’s Jason Evezard scored a school record nine goals against Cal Baptist on Sept. 14, surpassing the previous record set by Mitch Wise in 2013 and Lovre Milos in 2014.
  • Finn Banks dropped in 10 goals for Johns Hopkins on Sept. 29, aiding the team in a 24-14 win against LaSalle, tying the school game record. The effort matched that of Jayden Kunwar vs. Iona on Sept. 8, 2018.

Other Goal Scoring Standouts

  • Chapman’s Graham Asalone registered a 10-goal output in an exhibition loss against Lindenwood on Sept. 21.
  • Week 2 saw two players notch nine-goal outings. Fordham’s Jake Miller-Tolt put in nine goals against St. Francis Brooklyn on Sept. 15, while UC Irvine’s Jason Evezard tallied nine against Cal Baptist on Sept. 14.
  • Week 1’s top scorers were Loyola Marymount’s Blazo Mitrovic and Bucknell’s Rade Joksimovic, who each found the back of the net eight times on Sept. 7. Mitrovic did so in the Lions’ 12-10 win over Whittier, while Joksimovic’s effort came against #16 Cal Baptist.

Goalkeeping Swaps

  • Freshman Adrian Weinberg has won the starting goalkeeper job for Cal, pushing All-American Bernardo Carelli to a reserve role. Carelli has still logged 72 minutes, registering 18 saves. After aiding the Bears in a comeback win over Santa Clara, Carelli was back in the cage for a start and nine saves in a 9-8 win over #6 Pepperdine. Weinberg has played 397 minutes and made 123 saves, posting an 8-5 record.
  • Defending national champion USC has utilized three different goalkeepers: sophomore Vaios Vlahotasios (7 games, 58 saves), returning All-American Nic Porter (6 games, 46 saves) and rookie Jere Ashby (2 games, 9 saves).
  • UCLA rookie Bernardo Maurizi has gained experience, splitting time with redshirt senior Alex Wolf. Maurizi, the Italian U-19 national team’s backup goalie, made 13 saves in the season opener vs. Fordham and also earned starts against La Salle, #18 San Jose State and Pomona-Pitzer. Wolf has done the heavy lifting, however, starting against all six of the team’s Top 15 opponents: #12 Princeton,#6 Pepperdine, #7 Cal, #1 UC Santa Barbara, #3 Stanford, and #8 Long Beach State. The pair shared time in the cage against Navy.
  • Bucknell started Jack Otto in the cage the first two games of the season. He then split time with Adrien Touzot vs. Brown and St. Francis, UC San Diego, before going solo in an upset win over #12 Princeton and victory over #19 Brown. Ottoa made six saves in a 17-15 loss to Bucknell, before being replaced by Touzot for the final eight minutes. Touzot earned his first start later that day in a 13-1 win over Mercyhurst and registered 20 saves the next game vs. Wagner. The pair was back to shared duty in the team’s last game, a 16-10 win over LaSalle on Sept. 22.

Statistical Leaders

Goals

74 Jake Miller-Tolt, Fordham
65 Marius Jakimcikas, Concordia (Irvine)
57 Isaac Salinas, Navy
55 Balazs Kosa, Pepperdine
55 Andras Levai, George Washington
51 Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt, UC San Diego
50 Rade Joksimovic, Bucknell
49 Jayden Kunwar, Johns Hopkins
48 Graham Asalone, Chapman
46 Austin Stewart, Long Beach State

Assists

44 Reagan Pittman, Air Force
35 Michael Rojas, Salem
35 Lachlan Trabinger Wagner
35 Finn Banks, Johns Hopkins
32 Yurii Hanley, UC Davis
31 Christian Britton, Cal Baptist
30 Mac Carey, Santa Clara
29 Jake Miller-Tolt, Fordham
29 Riley Baumgardner, Cal Baptist
27 Ivan Gvozdanovic, UC Santa Barbara

Saves

182 Gabe Thorne, Cal Baptist
171 Matt Taylor, George Washington
156 Ethan Zirh, Wagner
154 Jack Turner, UC San Diego
145 Julen Alonso, Salem
140 Jonah Addington, UC Davis
138 Bailey O’Mara, Fordham
135 Wesley Hertel, Chapman
138 Marwan Darwish, Long Beach State
127 Anthony Tolbert, Air Force

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