The inaugural USA Water Polo Division III National Championship kicks off Saturday with a pair of semifinal matches at Lillian Slade Aquatics Center in Whittier, California.
The field includes host Whittier College alongside Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, MIT and Johns Hopkins.
Whittier earned the right to host the event after winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) tournament title with a 13-12 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Maxwell Murphy paced the Poets with a hat trick amongst eight scorers, while Christian Thorton led CMS with a five-goal outing.
Johns Hopkins punched its ticket to the Division III Championship by taking the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III Eastern Championship crown, by besting MIT 16-12 on Oct. 27. Nico Ivanov logged a hat trick and scored his 100th career goal in the win for JHU, while Jayden Kunwar also chipped in three scores. Miller Geschke put in six goals for the Engineers.
The semifinal matches are set for 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The winners of the two semifinals will meet at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, while the other two teams will meet for third place at 1:30 p.m.
|USA Water Polo Division III Championships|
|Dec. 7||Semifinal 1: Whittier vs. MIT||7:30 p.m.||Watch||Live Stats|
|Semifinal 2: Johns Hopkins vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps||9:30 p.m.||Watch||Live Stats|
|Dec. 8||Third Place: Loser of Semifinal 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal 2||1:30 p.m.||Watch|
|Championship: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2||3:30 p.m.||Watch|
The introduction of the Division III Championship came in February 2019 with two teams each from the SCIAC and CWPA set to make up the field. The SCIAC tournament winner was designated as the host team for 2019 and will rotate between conferences in future seasons.
The tournament is hoped to be a precursor for an NCAA sponsored Division III Championship.
Semifinal 1: Whittier vs. MIT – 7:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 7
Whittier (19-12, 13-1 SCIAC) is the #1 seed in the Division III Championship after winning the SCIAC regular season and tournament crowns. The Poets topped Redlands (12-7) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (13-12) to win the tournament title. Whittier is ranked at #1 in the CWPA Division III Poll.
Senior Dominic Nevarez was the SCIAC Athlete of the Year after posting 63 goals, 18 assists and 25 steals in 2019. Goalkeeper Murat Ersoz made 14 saves and boasts a .496 save percentage to hold things down defensively.
MIT (11-14, 2-8 NWPC) was fifth at the Northeast Water Polo Championship and was the runnerup at the CWPA Division III Eastern Championship. The Engineers are ranked tied for seventh in the CWPA Division III poll.
Miller Geschke has put in 77 goals and added 29 assists, while senior Clyde Hulbregtse has added 50 goals and 13 assists.
Previous Meetings: The teams did not meet in 2019.
Semifinal 2: Johns Hopkins vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps – 9:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 7
JHU (11-21, 3-9 MAWPC) are the #5 team in the CWPA Division III poll after claiming their 18th CWPA Division III Eastern Championship. The Blue Jays Jayden Kunwar paces the Blue Jays with 84 goals, while Finn Banks follows with 67 goals and 66 assists.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (17-11) was the #2 seed in the SCIAC tournament after posting an 11-3 conference mark. The Stags are ranked #2 in the CWPA Division III poll. CMS is led by Ethan Lewis, who has put in 49 goals, followed by Will Clark (44 goals, 51 assists) and Christian Thornton (35 goals).
Previous Meetings: Johns Hopkins is 7-7 all-time against CMS, including a 9-8 victory on Oct. 4. Finn Banks scored three times to lead the Bluejays, while Will Clark and Zach Rossman put in two goals apiece for the Stags.