Water polo loses huge trio to graduation

    Being one of the most dominant teams on campus (with arguably the best athletes), UCSD men’s water polo is fit to handle even the best at the Division I level.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Three players that are largely responsible for the team’s success will be leaving UCSD by the end of this quarter: Jonathan Samuels, Vladimir Djapic and Brett Allan.

    The heart and sole of the team has been Jonathan Samuels. He compiled an unprecedented 184 goals throughout his illustrious career at the two-meter offense position.

    Water polo head coach Denny Harper sings Samuel’s praises, calling him “”One of the most dominant players we have ever had here at UCSD.””

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    The awards that Samuels has received only further prove his greatness. The long list includes two-time conference MVP and nomination to the All-American Second Team in Division I.

    Samuels graduated from UCSD this past December and wasted no time getting right back into his game. He is now playing professionally in Europe.

    Along with Samuels, the great play of Vladimir Djapic boosted the Tritons. Djapic became an integral component of the Triton team after transferring from UCLA.

    “”Vlade has that European flare, he is a super exciting player. He gave us four outstanding years after he transferred,”” Harper said.

    Djapic tallied up 143 goals in his four years as a utility player, but also contributed in other aspects of the game for UCSD.

    “”His leadership was crucial,”” Harper said.

    Djapic actually graduated in the 2001 school year, but was eligible to play for the team in the fall. Now he embarks on a new journey in his life and leaves UCSD with many memories of his hard work and perseverance.

    Last but definitely not least is senior Brett Allan. Allan was a key player for the Tritons, but unfortunately had his senior year cut short after a lot of hard work. Brett was declared ineligible by UCSD.

    “”It is very unfortunate. He was leading us in scoring and was a great outside shooter,”” Hrper said. “”The incident occurred in August and he was declared ineligible, but the team was not told until right before the conference championships. This happened at a very poor time for us and was very punitive if you ask me.””

    The Tritons ended up losing the conference championship to Loyola Marymount University 4-2. Allan finished his season with 37 goals, and, as the primary 2-meter defender, he was obviously a key loss for the Tritons.

    “”It took us a while to recover from that blow,”” Harper said. “”With him, many observers believe we would have won our thirteenth conference title and gone on to play another great NCAA Championship.””

    However as Allan, Djapic and Samuels look back on their careers at UCSD, they do not dwell on that loss. They know that they were an instrumental part of on of the most memorable teams in school history.

    They were a part of the 2000 Triton team that beat UC Berkeley (the current No. 1 team in the country), and upset University of Southern California in last year’s Final Four to play in the national championship game against UCLA.

    “”They will be remembered as juniors that started on the 2000 team that broke a lot of ground for this program,”” Harper said.

    The team still went a remarkable 20-7 in 2001 and, out of the seven losses, five were by only one point.

    This year is definitely nothing to forget for them, either. All three players should be very proud of the legacy they leave behind and the examples they set for all the younger players.

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