Water polo heads north for playoffs

    After posting a 22-7 overall season record in two continuous months of league play, the No. 7 UCSD men’s water polo will head into the 2005 Western Water Polo Association Championships starting on Nov. 17 as the No. 1 seed.

    With the chance to head to the NCAA tournament by taking the WWPA Championships, the Tritons received a bye in the first round and will first face the winner of the UC Santa Cruz/Whittier University matchup. The men’s first match of the tournament will be held at Loyola Marymount’s Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center on Nov. 17.

    The Tritons have faced both UC Santa Cruz and Whittier in the past; they defeated Whittier in a blowout 17-1 win in their very first match of the season and had no trouble outmaneuvering the Banana Slugs 16-6 at the UC Santa Cruz Slug Fest, which they eventually went on to win by defeating Santa Clara University, Cal Lutheran University and Long Beach State in the middle of their season.

    The Tritons, who have received the No. 1 seed for the past four seasons, are ranked before No. 2 seed Loyola Marymount, which has also received the No. 2 seed honor at the WWPA the past four years.

    The tournament, which runs until Nov. 19, features 10 teams, including No. 3 UC Davis, No. 4 BYU-Hawaii, No. 5 Redlands, No. 6 Air Force, No. 7 Santa Clara, No. 8 UC Santa Cruz, No. 9 Whittier and No. 10 Pomona Pitzer.

    The men played and defeated all seven of the 10 teams featured in the tournament that they faced in the regular season. The Tritons have yet to play only BYU-Hawaii, Air Force or Pomona Pitzer.

    The Tritons’ biggest rival will be Loyola Marymount University, which they faced twice during the regular season, with both matches ending in very close victories.

    The first league matchup, on Sept. 23, ended in a 7-5 win for the Tritons with sophomore Adnan Jerkovic racking up two goals, while the second victory ended with another two-goal deficit, 9-7, with senior Jonathan Hopkins scoring one-third of the Tritons’ goals in the close match.

    The Lions will attempt to defend their two consecutive WWPA Championship titles. The team has won three of the last four titles, defeating Redlands University 6-3 last year to win the WWPA’s bid to the NCAA tournament.

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