Cal State Northridge, UC Irvine Meet In Saturday Showdown
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The top two teams in the Big West standings – Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine – battle in a women's water polo showdown from the Anteater Aquatics Complex on Saturday. The Matadors would wrap up the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament later this month with a victory.
Cal State Northridge Seeks Outright Title, Tournament No. 1 Seed
Cal State Northridge looks to clinch its third consecutive Big West regular season title, but first of the outright variety, when the Matadors travel to UC Irvine and Long Beach State this weekend.
The Matadors claimed co-regular season championships in 2009 and 2010 when they finished with a 4-1 conference record. In 2009, they split the title with UC Davis and UC Irvine. CSUN shared the crown with Pacific last season.
Off to a 3-0 in Big West play this season, the Matadors face two-time defending Big West Tournament champion UC Irvine on Saturday at Anteater Aquatics Complex. The Anteaters, riding the momentum of a 2-0 Big West start, would wrest away the favorite’s role with a win over the Matadors.
Both teams have played the role of spoiler. In 2010, the Anteaters entered the Big West Tournament as the No. 4 seed but upended second-seeded CSUN 12-11 in the championship game. In 2009, the Anteaters were denied an opportunity to finish the conference campaign with an unblemished 5-0 mark, losing in the regular season finale to CSUN by a 7-5 score.
Even with a loss to Long Beach State on Sunday, CSUN still wraps up the No. 1 seed for the 2011 Big West Tournament with a win at UC Irvine. The Matadors take a seven-match winning streak into the matchup with the Anteaters. UCI has won six of its last seven contests.
UC Santa Barbara Women’s Water Polo Vacates Four Victories
The UC Santa Barbara women’s water polo program must vacate four victories due to the use of an ineligible player this season.
The ineligible player competed in UCSB’s matches against Cal State Northridge (Feb. 26), St. Francis (Mar. 4), La Verne (Mar. 4) and Occidental (Mar. 12). Those wins have been removed from UCSB’s overall record, which falls from 19-10 to 15-10 on the year.
The Feb. 26 matchup against Cal State Northridge occurred during the UC Irvine Invitational and was considered a neutral site non-conference contest. UCSB’s Big West league record and seeding for the upcoming conference tournament will be unaffected.
Rankings Shift Occurs
While UC Irvine remained at No. 10 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association poll for the second straight week, the remainder of Big West teams shifted around in the rankings.
Cal State Northridge climbed two spots to No. 14 thanks to a 3-0 start in Big West play. UC Davis moved up one slot to No. 15 while UC Santa Barbara dropped one position to No. 16. Pacific jumped up two places on the ladder to No. 17. Making the biggest movement in the polls was Long Beach State, which fell six spots to No. 19 after losing on the road to Pacific and UC Davis last week. The 49ers, which stood as high as No. 10 in the poll for three straight weeks, have lost four of their last five matches.
Big West Owns Automatic Qualification To NCAA Championship
The Big West fulfilled a two-year waiting period to earn automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship, meaning the winner of this year’s conference tournament will receive one of eight slots in the national tournament. The third annual Big West Tournament is set for April 29-May 1 in Santa Barbara.