Is there a championshipin the house?

    The Triton water polo team is going to the NCAA Final Four,after sweeping the competition at the Western Water Polo Association Championships two weeks ago.

    Lyon Liew/

    It will compete with UCLA, Navy and USC. Although USC lost to Pepperdine in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, it was awarded an at-large berth based upon its regular season record.

    UCSD dominated the WWPA tournament with its defense. It allowed fewer than five goals in each game. For his efforts, Glenn Busch, Triton goalkeeper, was named to the all-WWPA second team.

    “”Our defense really re-emerged this tournament and led us to the win,”” said head coach Denny Harper.

    The Tritons’ first game in the tournament was against Chaminade, and it was a laugher. UCSD made it look like second graders with a bed-wetting problem and took it down 17-4.

    Air Force was UCSD’s next opponent and the toughest of the tournament. In the end, though, UCSD proved too strong and won 6-4.

    The last game against Loyola Marymount was close, but UCSD pulled away to win 10-5.

    Jonathan Samuels, who has been a rock for UCSD all season long, rose to the occasion at this tournament and annihilated opposing defenses, shredding any front thrown at him.

    Samuels was named the all-WWPA Most Valuable Player.

    “”[Samuels is a] man amongst boys,”” Harper said. “”All season long he has lead the team and has been the dominant player in the pool.””

    Justin Wylie and Samuels were named to the all-WWPA first team.

    Joining Busch on the second team were Jason Boettner and Vladimir Djopic, each outstanding contributors in the Tritons’ run to this year’s Final Four.

    “”Who lead us through this tournament were our seniors,”” Harper said. “”[Vladimir] Djopic, Jason [Boettner], Ken Woodruff, Justin Wylie and Glenn Busch really emerged and gave it their all and helped us win.””

    UCSD will face tough competition in the first round of the NCAA championships. It will play USC, which just barely squeaked by the Tritons 7-5 at Canyonview Pool earlier this season.

    The Tritons had a chance to beat USC, but gave up a couple of goals from 9 meters, which doomed them.

    Despite their year-end slump, the Tritons seem to have regained the confidence and form that allowed them to start the season on a tear. They ranked as high as fifth in the nation, a position that they held for two weeks.

    If the Tritons can retain this form and eliminate the kinds of mistakes that belayed their loss to USC, they have a serious chance to overcome the Trojans.

    “”The Trojans might be looking past us to UCLA,”” Harper said. “”They have such a rivalry there and after their earlier loss they have a lot of emotion invested. With the way we are playing that is going to play to our advantage.””

    The NCAA Final Four will be played this weekend in Malibu. The UCSD vs. USC game will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

    The winner of this game will play UCLA or Navy in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The third-place game will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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