Men’s College Water Polo Week One: Fordham Up; Pepperdine, Harvard Down


Notable changes in this week’s Collegiate Water Polo Association Men’s Varsity Poll: Pepperdine dropped five spots due to a loss to host UC San Diego at the Triton Invitational; Harvard dropped seven spots due to a loss at home to Fordham—a decision that pushed the Rams up four spots into a tie with Bucknell.

Santa Clara traveled East for the Bruno Classic in Providence, Rhode Island, and left with four wins, including two on last-second scores—the Broncos’ best start in 12 years.

Following is the full CWPA Top-Twenty and what competition they will face this week.

1) UCLA (4-0); A great opening weekend for the Bruins—if you consider a narrower than expected win over Cal Baptist and a late push to beat UC Santa Barbara—and an even bigger weekend for freshman Chase Dodd. The Huntington Beach HS graduate collected eight goals to lead the Bruins over the weekend—and picked up  MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week honors. Next up: UC Irvine at Westwood this Friday, then Pomona-Pitzer and UC San Diego Saturday in Claremont for the Inland Empire Classic.

2) USC (1-0); The Trojans played twice, beating West Valley College 27-9 and La Verne 28-5. Does it matter who scored? A competitive match WILL take place on Saturday when Pepperdine comes to Uytengsu; last time these two teams met, the Waves tagged the Trojans with a 13-12 loss – their first win over USC since 2005. Hard to see them winning twice in a row over the mighty Trojans. On Sunday USC travels to Claremont for matches against Occidental and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the Inland Empire Classic.

3) (T)  Stanford (2-0); The Cardinal rallied from a goal down to beat Pacific 15-12 in OT. Next up are the Kardiac Kids from Santa Clara (it’s early!). Two last second wins at the Bruno Invite at Brown gave the Broncos a fast (4-0) start. They gallop into Avery for a Wednesday match before Stanford flies East for the Princeton Invitational.

3) (T) Cal (4-0); The Golden Bears cleaned up on the East Coast the past weekend; only the result with Princeton (11-9) was close in a back-and-forth match. Back-to-back match-ups with GCC opponents await their return; Pacific on Saturday in Stockton and San Jose State Sunday at Spieker.

5) UC-Santa Barbara (3-1); No rocket-fast start for the Gauchos in 2021. But, the match w/#1 UCLA had its plus: six goals from newly-arrived Sawyer Rhodes (Cardinal, Trojan fans, remember him?)—part of a 17 goal explosion over the weekend. This weekend presents five contests against SCIAC members in the Inland Empire Classic.

6) Long Beach State (4-0); Host UC San Diego gave the 49ers a tussle (11-7 loss) but otherwise smooth sailing in San Diego. Next up: three matches against SCIAC teams and one against Air Force in the Inland Empire Classic.

Where IS he now? Sawyer Rhodes in 2019 with USC. Photo Courtesy: John McGillen/USC Athletics

7) Pacific (2-1); If you’re Tigers’ head man James Graham you gotta feel good about a one-goal lead over Stanford with 90 seconds remaining even if the result was a loss in OT, and you had to sweat out a season-opening match against GCC rival San Jose State. Next up: Cal in Stockton; the Tigers beat the Golden Bears for first time in five tries in September 2019.

8) UC-San Diego (3-1); The only blemish at their own tourney was the loss to The Beach, but it’s balanced by a GREAT 17-12 win over Pepperdine. Next comes a winnable match Thursday at home against Concordia of the WWPA and then UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday.

9) UC-Davis (4-0); Like Cal, the Aggies were at the Navy Invitational. Like Cal they went 4-0. Unlike Cal they had to go to OT to win their one tough match-up. UC Davis topped feisty Bucknell 14-13 in extra time. For the weekend, freshman Aleix Aznar Beltran scored 16 goals—earning him WWPA player of the week honors.

10) Pepperdine (3-1); Biggest drop in the CWPA Top Ten—all the way from fifth—due to a 17-12 loss to UC San Diego. Playing the Trojans Saturday on the road—ouch!

11) San Jose State (1-2); Results at Pacific Invitational were better than they looked; a one-goal overtime loss to the host Tigers and an excellent day by goalie Yahav Fire—28 saves in two matches including eight in a 16-7 loss to Stanford. Spartans host Cuesta (a community college) UC Davis and Santa Clara on Saturday before traveling up the coast to Berkeley for the Golden Bears on Sunday.

12) Princeton (3-1); A very tough loss to Cal had a silver lining: freshman Roko Pozaric had a hat trick. Next up is the Tigers own invitational this weekend at DiNunzio Pool. They’ll be challenged by Cal Baptist, Stanford and local rival Fordham.

13) UC-Irvine (2-0); A good start for the Anteaters (convincing wins over Redlands and Chapman) will be put to the test Sunday when they travel to Westwood for a Friday match with #1 UCLA.

14) Cal Baptist (1-3); Losing looks MUCH better when it’s by two goals to the #1 team in the country (UCLA) and also by two to the country’s #5 team (Pepperdine). Now, for some wins in Princeton against four East Coast teams (host Tigers, Bucknell, Fordham and Wagner).

15) Santa Clara (4-0); Two last-second wins at Brown made for an EXCELLENT—and undefeated—Broncos adventure. Now comes the crashing reality; a match-up with #3 Stanford at The Farm on Wednesday, then at San Jose State on Saturday.

16 (T) Bucknell (2-2); The blow-out loss to Cal (20-8) was predictable; the OT loss to UC Davis was tough to accept. On to the Princeton Invitational and four matches this weekend including a rematch with Harvard; the Crimson and the Bison played a memorable NCAA play-in match in 2019, won by Bucknell.

16 (T) Fordham (3-1); The Rams upset Harvard in their own pool and took two of three other matches at the Bruno Invite. Their only stumble was a last-second loss to Santa Clara—all with perhaps their most talented player, Jacopo Parrella, in Europe playing for Italy in the 2021 FINA Junior World Championships. Can Fordham top the host Tigers, Cal Baptist or St. Francis in Princeton this weekend?

18) Harvard (3-1); So much for an undefeated regular season. The loss to Fordham dropped the Crimson seven spots in the poll. Now they face post-season nemesis Bucknell—plus George Washington and Wagner—at the Princeton Invitational.

19) Pomona-Pitzer (3-1); Three wins and a respectable (14-6) loss to #5 UCSB is a good way to open their season; now the Sagehens will host multiple teams at the Inland Empire Classic and play #1 UCLA and #6 Long Beach State on Saturday.

20) Loyola Marymount (2-2); A loss to UCSB (14-7) is understandable; a 10-7 loss to Pomona-Pitzer might have Lions’ Head Coach John Loughran concerned because LMU is built for a run at NCAAs. Pepperdine on Sunday at home may be a better indicator of what their coach can expect in 2021.