UC Irvine Invitational Focus Of Women's Water Polo This Week
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Sixteen nationally ranked squads descend upon the UC Irvine Invitational, one of the premier collegiate women's water polo tournaments. Host and No. 7-ranked UCI is the highest ranked Big West school competing in the event.
Prestigious UC Irvine Invitational Features Talented Pool Of Teams
The sixth annual UC Irvine Invitational is one of the premier tournaments in the collegiate women’s water polo world. All 16 participating teams are currently ranked in the Collegiate Water Polo Association top 20 poll, including top-ranked and defending national champion Stanford. Five schools in the tournament field hail from the Big West – No. 17 Cal State Northridge, No. 20 Long Beach State, No. 13 UC Davis, No. 7 UC Irvine and No. 15 UC Santa Barbara.
For the first time in tournament history, the host Anteaters come in as the higher seed on day one. UCI, as the No. 7 seed, meets No. 10 Loyola Marymount at Anteater Aquatic Complex on Saturday. The Anteaters defeated the Lions on the road in a match last Saturday. UCI tops the Big West with a 9-2 record and boasts six wins over nationally ranked opponents. The only two losses have come against Arizona State, which enters the tournament ranked No. 5 nationally.
This prestigious event includes six participants from the 2011 NCAA Championship. In the five previous years of the tournament’s existence, the eventual national champion has reached the title match of the UC Irvine Invitational. And three times the eventual UCI Invite champion went on to capture the NCAA Championship.
Some tough first matchups are in store for the Big West contingent. Cal State Northridge faces No. 3 UCLA and Long Beach State draws No. 2 USC. UC Davis battles No. 5 Arizona State and UC Santa Barbara squares off against No. 4 California. The Gauchos and Aggies could meet in the second game of the first day. Likewise, the Anteaters and 49ers could find themselves matched up against each other. The Matadors are slated to take on either Hawai’i or Michigan in their second game. Sunday’s matches will determine placing in the event.
Five Teams Remain Ranked In CWPA Poll
For the fifth straight week, UC Irvine remained in the Collegiate Water Polo Association poll top 10. The Anteaters remained at No. 7 in the poll after notching a win against Loyola Marymount last week.
UC Davis remained at No. 13. The Aggies snapped an eight-match losing streak with a road win at Sonoma State on Sunday. The Aggies have played a brutal schedule with seven matches against teams ranked in the national top five.
UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge did not change in the poll from their No. 15 and No. 17 spots, respectively. Both schools have been idle from action for two weeks. Long Beach State dropped to No. 20 in the poll.
Big West In NCAA Championship
The Big West received an automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship for the first time in league history in 2011. Once again, the Big West Tournament champion will earn one of nine slots for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship, which will be played May 11-13 at the Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego, Calif. Host San Diego State will become an official member of the Big West in 2013.