Men's Water Polo Heading for the Deep End

    The UCSD men’s water polo team is bidding adieu to five key performers — five hard working players who were instrumental in the team’s success over the last few seasons and who will be missed when the squad hits the pool next fall.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Their accomplishments and contributions to the Triton polo program are vast, including crucial performances en route to this season’s Cinderella run to the finals. It can be said that Canyonview pool will seem a little bit emptier now that Jason Boettner, Eric Rosen, Glenn Busch, Kenny Woodruff and Justin Wylie have swam off into the sunset.

    Wylie was one of coach Denny Harper’s main scorers, tallying 27 goals last season on 63 shots. He also had 16 assists, 25 steals and was the team’s No. 1 two-meter defender, despite a shoulder injury that plagued him down the stretch.

    “”Wylie had a phenomenal career here, and really emerged as a key player for us,”” Harper said. “”He had so many big plays and big moments, despite a pretty significant injury. He never whined about it, he was just a tough kid. It’s going to be hard to have someone like Justin out of the program, because he had this way of keeping everyone loose and having a good time, which is something every successful team needs.””

    Boettner, the team’s co-captain, has been one of Harper’s main weapons during his four-year tenure on the UCSD polo team. His statistics for the 2000 season reflect his dominance in the pool. He scored a whopping 43 goals on 91 shots, while compiling 40 assists and 42 steals during the season.

    “”I don’t even want to think about Jason not playing,”” Harper said. “”His presence was missed during his redshirt year, when he concentrated on swimming.

    Harper said that Boettner was a pleasure to coach.

    “”He’s one of the very few guys that I’ve had in my program who can play an entire water polo game and not get tired,”” he said. “”Jason, in my mind, represents your old-school, hard-nosed athlete. He was beyond coachable, and had such a huge senior season. I told him before the season that he was going to have to score more goals, but even I didn’t think he’d go out for five goals against USC in the NCAA semifinal.””

    Harper noted that Boettner’s presence transcends the mere confines of the pool.

    “”If I had to rope in some guys to go on a mission to rescue a family member in Cambodia, Jason is one of the first guys I’d pick, no question,”” he said.

    The family name will still be heard around Canyonview Pool, though.

    “”It is going to be tough to fill his spot, but I’m happy to say that I’ll be able to say the Boettner name around the pool for four more years because his brother Travis has committed to UCSD, which is kind of cool,”” Harper said.

    Busch has been coach Harper’s brick wall in the cage, logging 71 quarters of action in the 2000 season alone. His goaltending was sharp enough to come up with 150 saves and allow only 121 goals for a 6.82 average. He also picked up eight assists and 11 steals during the year.

    “”Busch was a local kid, out of Poway, who had a great career,”” Harper said. “”He definitely saved his best for last; he got progressively better each year. He was not a huge guy but was all about angles and reading the shooters. He had a solid senior year. He didn’t have any real breakout games, although his game against USC was pretty huge. His performance, though, especially in the second half of the season, made all the difference in the world.””

    Woodruff is another quality player that is leaving the squad this year. He had a strong 2000 season, boasting a .500 scoring average, with 14 goals on 28 attempts. He also had 12 assists and 25 steals for the Tritons this year.

    Woodruff brought maturity to the squad, according to Harper.

    “”He came in specifically to bring in some leadership,”” Harper said. “”He emerged his junior season as a significant person off of the bench, and if it wasn’t for his individual performance in the championship game we wouldn’t have beat Air Force. His senior year, he saw a lot more minutes and was willing to accept his role for the good of the team. He was a big part of the whole formula of having the winning season.””

    Rosen has also played a solid role for the Tritons during his career, which is coming to an end this year due to a controversial NCAA ruling that ended his eligibility. He had five goals on 12 shots last season for UCSD and notched 12 assists and 25 steals.

    “”Every team has guys that might not get big minutes but make an impact,”” Harper said. “”He was hurt by the obscure NCAA ruling, which in a word, sucked, and which really took the wind out of Eric. But despite that, he never missed workouts, and he was a big, strong left-hander who brought a real maturity to the team. He has done incredibly well academically and had as much to do with our championship season as anyone else. I have a huge amount of respect for him and the role he accepted for this year to be a championship year.””

    The water polo program will miss the play of these athletes when they commence their 2001 campaign. Their presence and leadership, both in and out of the pool, were invaluable to the squad during practices and games. Their effort and contributions to Triton polo were much appreciated by their teammates and coaches.

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