No. 6 UC Irvine Looks To Repeat As Women's Water Polo Champion
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12_WWP Release No. 10
UC Irvine, which went a perfect 5-0 in women's water polo conference play last year, travels to Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara this weekend for the beginning of Big West action.
Big West Action Gets Underway This Week
The long-awaited conference schedule begins this week with all six Big West teams in action. UC Irvine looks to repeat as conference regular season champion after posting an unblemished 5-0 record in 2011.
The Anteaters, who also shared the Big West title with Cal State Northridge and UC Davis in 2009, have won eight straight matches against Big West opponents in conference play. They are 12-3 all-time against Big West foes in conference action.
With an overall record of 17-5 and a No. 6 national ranking, UCI appears to be the favorite to capture the crown. The Anteaters have won five straight and eight of their last 10 matches, and are well rested going into their Big West opener against Cal State Northridge Saturday. UCI has been idle since defeating Harvard 15-8 on Mar. 17. UCI has played 15 matches against teams ranked in the College Water Polo Association Top 20 with an impressive 10-5 record against the competition.
The Matadors are 14-14 overall, riding a four-match winning streak into the UCI matchup. CSUN also has won 10 of its last 13 contests. The Matadors are 0-2 against the Anteaters this season, falling in the UCSB Winter Invite (9-4) on Jan. 29 and UC Irvine Invite (10-5) on Feb. 26.
UC Santa Barbara hosts Long Beach State and UC Irvine in additional Big West action. The Gauchos are 15-11 under first-year head coach Cathy Neushul. UCSB is in the middle of a nine-match homestand with a current mark of 4-1. The 49ers have hit their stride with wins in six of their last seven games, the only setback a 7-3 decision to No. 3 USC on Mar. 22.
Northern California rivals UC Davis and Pacific face off for the second time in a week as both teams play their Big West opener on Saturday. Both programs have experienced conference success – UC Davis earned a share of the title with UC Irvine in 2009 and Pacific followed suit as co-champions with Cal State Northridge in 2010. The Aggies are sizzling right now on a seven-match winning streak, while the Tigers enter on a five-game skid. In fact, UCD held off a late Pacific charge last Sunday to win 11-9 in the final match of the Pacific Invitational.
Four Teams Ranked In CWPA Poll
The most recent Collegiate Water Polo Association rankings just came out and UC Irvine sits at No. 6 in the poll for the third straight week. The Anteaters have been dormant for two weeks to study for exams as they return to the pool for their Big West opener Saturday against Cal State Northridge.
UC Davis remained at No. 11 in the poll while UC Santa Barbara dropped one spot to No. 15. Cal State Northridge stayed put at No. 17.
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.