Men's water polo earns WWPA honors

    Despite not returning home with the 2003 Western Water Polo Association Championship title, the Triton men’s water polo squad did manage certain smaller victories. More than half of the starting lineup received all-tournament honors, including junior utility Jonathan Hopkins’ Most Valuable Player award. He and junior driver Brandon Borso also received first-team all-conference honors, while junior driver Clark Petersen and sophomore goalie Colin McElroy both earned second-team decorations.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    “”Our coaches prepared us 110 percent,”” Borso said. “”They worked us harder and swam us harder this year than any other.””

    The Tritons faced off against Loyola Marymount in the championship game of the tournament on Nov. 22 at the University of Redlands Thompson Aquatic Center, after coming into the game leading their opponents, 33-5, in their first two games. The Lions took the game in a 6-5 decision ‹ their only victory over UCSD this season.

    “”It’s bittersweet,”” Borso said. “”I would give just about anything to have that game back. Not to win, but just to get the opportunity to play it again. I think that we sort of underestimated [LMU] and that hurt us. We can’t sugarcoat it. There is no Œwe should have, could have or would haves.'””

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    The four all-conference honors awarded to the Tritons were more than any other team in the WWPA. With Hopkins’ MVP honor, UCSD was the most accomplished team in the conference, with LMU ‹ who tallied three members to the all-conference teams plus the Coach of the Year Award given to John Loughran ‹ second.

    “”I think I earned it, but I don’t think I did as well as I did last year when I got first team,”” Petersen said of his second-team honor. “”I’ll be working hard this year to get back on the first team. It’s not as significant as if we’d won the tournament, but it’s still a great achievement.””

    Hopkins stressed that he could not have gotten MVP on his own.

    “”There are a lot of players around me on the team that make me look good,”” Hopkins said. “”If it hadn’t been me in that spot, it would have been one of the other guys on the team. This is one of the most talented teams out there.””

    On the season, Hopkins recorded a team-high 64 goals, beating his 2002 season mark of 63.

    “”I don’t focus on the individual awards as much as the team,”” Hopkins said. “”I would do anything Š I would trade the MVP to get to the NCAA [tournament]. It’s a team game.””

    This year’s Triton squad was not as green as many of their opponents, thus giving them the advantage of knowing one another.

    McElroy stepped up as the youngest member of the team to earn all-tournament honors.

    “”This season was great. It was a lot of fun,”” McElroy said. “”I played better than I’d expected, and it’s definitely an honor that I earned.””

    Only senior starters Matthew Ustaszewski and Matt Ellis will leave the team next year, but the majority of the roster will remain intact, with six red shirts being eligible to compete.

    “”Some of the guys are just taking it easy now, but a few of us have already started lifting,”” Petersen said. “”We’ll get back into the pool in January.””

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