Preseason Polls Aim to Predict Men’s Water Polo Conference Races

With conference play on the horizon in men’s collegiate water polo, SwimSwam takes a look at the projected standings from each league’s preseason coaches poll.

Golden Coast Conference

In 2018, Pacific captured the regular season title at 4-1, followed by UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine at 3-1. Long Beach State won the GCC Tournament crown, besting the top seeded Tigers 10-6 in the championship game and earning an NCAA Tournament berth.

Pacific returns 2018 GCC Player of the Year Luke Pavillard, while UC Irvine boasts the 2018 GCC Newcomer of the Year in Jason Evezard.

UC Santa Barbara, the coaches’ pick for the preseason favorite in 2019, brings back two first team all-conference players in goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano and driver Ivan Gvozdanovic, both honorable mention All-Americans, as well as GCC All-Freshman Team selection Leo Yuno.

Pacific is the only other team returning two first team all-league players in Pavillard and junior attacker Engin Ege Colak, who also was tabbed as a third team All-American.

Pepperdine, picked second, brings back third team All-American Balazs Kosa.

Institution Points (First Place Votes)
1. UC Santa Barbara 20 (2)
2. Long Beach St. 19 (2)
2. Pepperdine 19 (1)
4. Pacific 18 (1)
5. UC Irvine 8
6. San Jose St. 6

Mid-Atlantic Conference

George Washington snatched its second straight MAWPC tournament title by topping #1 seed Bucknell 12-11 in overtime after trailing with eight seconds left in regulation. In 2019, both teams were picked by the league’s coaches as favorites to take the regular season crown.

Bucknell returns East All-Conference MVP and second team All-American Rade Joksimovic as well as fellow first team all-league honoree and honorable mention All-American Logan Schofield.

George Washington put two players on the MAWPC first team a year ago, with utility player Atakan Destici back for his senior season. Center Andrew Mavis is coming off second team accolades in 2018. Both Destici and Mavis look to build on honorable mention All-America seasons, but the Colonels must replace four seniors.

Navy boasts the 2018 Rookie of the Year in Isaac Salinas. First teamer Bobby Lee and second teamer Andrew Shashin join him in highlighting the Midshipmen roster.

Rank  Team Final 2018 Poll Points
1 (T)  George Washington University 1 97
1 (T)  Bucknell University 2 97
3 (T)  Fordham University 4 85
3 (T)  United States Naval Academy NR 85
5  Wagner College 3 70
RV  Johns Hopkins University 5 16

MPSF

With three teams among the final six teams at the NCAA Championship a year ago, including national champion USC and runner-up Stanford and semifinalist UCLA, there is no doubt the MPSF was among the toughest conferences in the country.

So tough, in fact, that league tournament runner-up Cal, which lost 12-10 to Stanford in the conference title game, wrapped the season ranked fourth nationally but was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

Highlighting the league’s returning players are Stanford center Ben Hallock, the reigning MPSF Player of the Year, and USC’s Hannes Daube, the 2018 Newcomer of the Year.

Joining Hallock on the Stanford roster is fellow first team All-American and first team All-MPSF honoree Bennett Williams.

Teaming up with Daube to aid defending national champion USC are first team All-MPSF honoree Jacob Mercep (USC) and second teamers Marko Vavic and Matt Maier. Mercep and Daube were both first team All-Americans, while Vavic was a second team selection and Maier earned third team acclaim. 

UCLA brings back goalkeeper Alex Wolf and second team All-MPSF honorees Nicolas Saveljic and Evan Rosenfeld. Wolf and Saveljic look to repeat on first team All-America campaigns, while Rosenfeld is coming off a season which brought him a second team All-America nod.

The league coaches split first place votes among the three teams, with Stanford garnering three of the six, UCLA earning two and USC grabbing one.

Rank    Team                           Points (First-Place)
1T        Stanford                                   21 (3)                   
1T         UCLA                                      21 (2)                  
1T         USC                                        21 (1)                  
4          California                                 13                        
5          Penn State Behrend                 8                         
6          Austin College                          6                          

Northeast Water Polo Conference

Princeton secured the 2018 NWPC Championship crown, its first since 2015, by downing top seeded Harvard 12-10 in the title match, to garner an NCAA Tournament berth. The Tigers were selected to win the conference title in 2019 despite not returning any All-Americans or All-NWPC selections.

The NWPC saw five players earn honorable mention All-America honors in 2018, but just three are back in 2019.

NWPC regular season champion Harvard brings back league MVP Austin Sechrest and Dennis Blyashov, both honorable mention All-Americans and first team all-league honorees. The Crimson roster also includes first team all-conference selection Noah Hodge in the goal.

Brown will look to senior Armen Deirmenjian to lead the way a year after he garnered honorable mention All-America and second team All-NWPC awards. The Bear roster also includes second team all-league honorees in goalkeeper Riad Hallal and center Hudson Rawlings.

St. Francis Brooklyn boasts the 2018 Rookie of the Year in Djorde Stanic.

Rank  Team Final 2018 Poll Points
1  Princeton University 1 99
2  Harvard University 2 95
3  Brown University 4 90
4  St. Francis College Brooklyn 3 85
5  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 5 65
RV  Iona College NR 16

Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Pomona-Pitzer won both the regular season and tournament crowns for the third straight year in 2018 to punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Sagehens, which ran the table at 14-0 last year, must replace the league’s 2018 Athlete of the Year in Adam Ward, but return a roster including Division III first team All-Americans in James Kelbert and Sam Sasaki, second teamers in Dylan Elliott and Joseph Schafer and honorable mention selection Jacob Niskey. Schafer and Sasaki were first team All-SCIAC honorees, while Elliott and Niskey garnered second team all-league acclaim.

Whittier, which was the league runner-up in 2018, brings back 2018 Newcomer of the Year Eric Borunda and 2017’s top rookie in Hans Zdolsek, a first team all-SCIAC selection in 2018. The Poets also have first team all-league honoree Murat Ersoz in the goal.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, which was picked third in the league voting, has first team all-conference picks Zack Rossman, Ethan Lewis and Will Clark back in the fold in 2019.

Of the league’s 23 Division III All-America selections, 21 are back in the pool in 2019.

  • Pomona-Pitzer – 1st (Kelbert, Sasaki), Elliot & Schafer (2nd), Niskey (HM)
  • Whittier – Zdolsek (1st), Borunda (2nd), Ersoz (HM)
  • CMS – Rossman (1st), Clark (2nd), Lewis (HM)
  • Cal Lutheran – Ben Brown (1st), George Lundren & Dillon Goldsmith (HM)
  • Chapman – Graham Asalone (2nd), Wesley Hertel (HM)
  • Redlands – Chris Martinez (2nd), Spencer Allen (HM)
  • LaVerne – Chuckie Ortego
  • Cal Tech – Steven Csaposs

Preseason Poll

1. Pomona-Pitzer – 81 points (9 first place votes)
2. Whittier – 69 points
3. CMS – 66 points
4. Cal Lutheran – 52 points
5. Chapman – 41 points
6. Redlands – 39 points
7. Occidental – 24 points
8. La Verne – 22 points
9. Caltech – 11 points

Western Water Polo Association

UC San Diego was picked to repeat as conference champion after downing UC Davis in last year’s WWPA Tournament final (11-10), winning 20 games for the first time since 2008 and making its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015.

The Tritons return all five of their All-WWPA honorees – Division II Player of the Year Jack Turner in goal and fellow Division II first team All-Americans Skyler Munatones and Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt along with second team all-conference selection Kacper Langiewicz and all-freshman team honoree Konstantin Karlov.

UC Davis earned the final first place vote in the coaches poll after finishing second to UCSD in 2018. The Aggies bring back WWPA All-Freshman Team honoree Nir Gross, but must replace Player of the Year Ido Goldschmidt and three other all-conference players. UC Davis won back to back titles in 2016 and 2017.

Loyola Marymount was picked third after placing third in 2018. The Lions return honorable mention All-American and WWPA Freshman of the Year Blazo Mitrovic.

Cal Baptist, which was picked fourth, returns honorable mention All-American and first team all-conference honoree Dominick Nevarez alongside goalkeeper Thomas Lotero, a first team All-WWPA selection.

Concordia (Irvine) also boasts an All-Americans on its roster with Division II first teamer Patrick Zsiros.

Meanwhile, the Air Force roster includes first team All-WWPA selection Luke Andres.

Rank – Team – Points (First Place Votes)
1. UC San Diego – 49 (7)
2. UC Davis – 43 (1)
3. Loyola Marymount – 33
4. California Baptist – 29
T5. Air Force – 26
T5. Santa Clara – 26
7. Concordia – 11
8. Fresno Pacific – 9

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