UC Irvine Seeks Fourth Straight Tournament Title
Files associated with this release:
2012 Big West Tournament Bracket
12_WWP Release No. 14
UC Irvine aims for its fourth tournament title in as many years when the Big West Women's Water Polo Championships begin on Friday at the Schaal Aquatics Center on the campus of UC Davis.
UC Irvine Prepares To Defend Big West Tournament Title
UC Irvine enters as the No. 1 seed for the 2012 Big West Women’s Water Polo Tournament, which takes place April 27-29 at the Ted & Rand Schaal Aquatics Center on the UC Davis campus.
The Anteaters are the No. 1 seed for the second straight year. They look to claim their fourth conference tournament title in as many years. In 2009, the Anteaters were a No. 3 seed and they won as a No. 4 seed in 2010.
UCI (22-6, 5-0) secured its second straight undefeated conference season after defeating Long Beach State last Thursday. The Anteaters have won 13 straight regular season Big West contests dating back to the 2010 season. In Big West Tournament play, UCI is 8-0 all-time. UCI is also one win away from tying the program record for most victories in a season (23) and two from establishing a new bar. The Anteaters come into the tournament winners of 10 of their last 11 matches with the only setback coming to No. 2 UCLA.
UC Davis (17-12, 4-1), the host school for the 2012 Big West Tournament, enters as the No. 2 seed. It matches the 2009 squad for the highest tournament seed by an Aggie team. The Aggies were seeded No. 5 in each of the last two years. UCD has peaked at the right time with 12 victories in the last 13 matches. The Aggies knocked off No. 8 San Jose State in the regular season finale for their highest win against a nationally ranked team this season.
In the No. 3 slot is UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos went 19-13 overall and 3-2 in Big West play and see their first action in nearly two weeks. The Gauchos need only one win in the tournament to register a 20-win season for the first time since the Big West established women’s water polo as a sponsored sport in 2009, as well as the first in head coach Cathy Neushul’s first year at the helm. The Gauchos are also playing well with wins in nine of their last 12 contests.
The Gauchos meet No. 6 seed Pacific in first round action on Friday. The Tigers won two of their final three regular season matches after sustaining an eight-game losing streak. The Tigers lost a narrow 8-7 decision to UCSB on April 15 in the only other meeting between the two teams this season.
No. 4 seed Cal State Northridge is 17-19 overall and 1-4 in the Big West. The Matadors boast a win over No. 6 Hawai’i this season. Their first round matchup is versus No. 5 Long Beach State. The 49ers have dropped five of their last six games with the previous three against top 10 clubs. CSUN defeated LBSU 11-7 on April 1 in the only meeting between the two schools this season.
Semifinal action continues on Saturday and the consolation and championship matches will be played Sunday.
UC Irvine has held strong at No. 6 in the Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Association poll for seven straight weeks. The No. 6 ranking is UCI’s highest and the highest ranking by a Big West program since the conference began sponsoring the sport in 2009. The Anteaters attained a school record national ranking of No. 5 in 2007.
UC Davis is the next highest Big West team in the polls at No. 10, followed by No. 15 UC Santa Barbara and No. 19 Cal State Northridge. Long Beach State and Pacific are receiving votes. The Big West has had at least four teams ranked in the CWPA top 20 in every week of the poll since 2009.
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.