Ready for Redemption: No. 12 UC San Diego Faces No. 17 Wagner in NCAA Opening Round on May 8
UC SAN DIEGO VITALS
National Rank: 12th (CWPA)
WWPA Standing: 1st of 8
USC will be home to the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship starting with opening round games on Tuesday, May 8. No. 12 ranked UC San Diego takes No. 17 Wagner beginning at 7 p.m. PT, as the two teams will match up in the NCAA Championship for the third consecutive season. The winner will take on top-seeded USC on Friday, May 11, beginning at 12 p.m.
No. 8 UC Irvine takes on RV Pomona-Pitzer in the other opening-round game on May 8, at 4:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to take on No. 2-seeded UCLA.
UC San Diego is currently ranked 12th in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) national rankings. The Tritons have been ranked as high as tied for 10th this season and began the year ranked 16th. To view the complete rankings click here.
UC San Diego enters the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship with a 24-11 overall record after winning last weekend's Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship tournament, and has won eight of its last nine games overall ... The Tritons have earned 11 victories over ranked opponents this season ... UC San Diego is led by senior Kayla Fedler, who has a team-high 60 points on 47 goals with 13 assists ... Sophomore Krista Schneider ranks second on the team with 59 points on 16 goals and a team-best 43 assists, while freshman Taylor Onstott is third on the squad with 58 points on 40 goals and 18 assists ... Junior Chanel Schilling leads the team with 41 exclusions drawn and freshman Ciara Franke has a team-high 61 steals ... Freshman goalkeeper Bennett Bugelli has racked up a team-best 138 saves in just 10 starts, while sophomore goalkeeper Reilly Gallagher has started 23 games with 133 saves ... First-year UC San Diego assistant coach Nicki Davidson played water polo and was on the swimming team at Wagner.
WWPA CHAMPS AGAIN!
UC San Diego won its sixth straight conference title and seventh in the last eight seasons at the 2018 WWPA Championship. As the No. 1 seed with a perfect 4-0 regular season record in WWPA play, the host Tritons cruised to a 14-2 quarterfinal win over first-year member McKendree before knocking off No. 5-seed Sonoma State, 11-1, in the semifinals. UC San Diego capped off the weekend with a 12-2 win in the championship game against Cal State East Bay. Freshman goalkeeper Bennett Bugelli was named WWPA Championship MVP, while sophomore Jessee Ransone and freshman Taylor Onstott both landed on the WWPA All-Tournament First Team.
WWPA FINAL Standings
1. UC San Diego: 4-0, 20-11
2. Mercyhurst: 4-0, 13-5
3. Cal State East Bay: 6-1, 16-8
4. Fresno Pacific: 3-3, 9-16
5. Gannon: 2-2, 7-9
6. Sonoma State: 2-4, 6-17
7. McKendree: 0-4, 8-14
8. Cal State Monterey Bay: 0-7, 4-19
SEVEN TRITONS EARN ALL-WWPA HONORS
UC San Diego had seven players named All-WWPA, including first-team selections junior Chanel Schilling, junior Krista Schneider and sophomore Reilly Gallagher. Senior Kayla Fedler and freshman Taylor Onstott each earned second-team accolades, while freshman Grace Pevehouse was honorable mention. In addition, Onstott was named WWPA Newcomer of the Year and landed on the All-Freshman Team, along with Ciara Franke.
HARPER CUP REMAINS IN LA JOLLA
Freshman Ciara Franke recorded two goals in the second half, while junior Shelby Stender scored the game-winning goal off an assist from senior Kayla Fedler with 1:38 remaining, lifting No. 12-ranked UC San Diego to a victory over No. 21 San Diego State, 6-5, to claim the Harper Cup for a third straight year. The Tritons trailed by one at halftime and were behind 3-1 late in the third quarter before pulling off the thrilling comeback. Franke earned Harper Cup MVP honors, finishing with a game-high four steals in addition to two goals scored. It was the fourth time that UC San Diego has lifted the cup, all coming in the past five years.
WHO'S BACK, WHO'S NOT
The 2018 Triton roster boasts 15 returners, including four All-WWPA honorees in sophomore utility Jessee Ransone, sophomore goalkeeper Reilly Gallagher, junior center Chanel Schilling and junior attacker Krista Schneider. Ransone, selected to the WWPA All-Freshman Team, tied a team high with 29 assists as a true freshman, along with 12 goals and 33 steals. Gallagher, an All-WWPA second-team selection, started all 34 games in the cage with 205 saves, 12 steals and 22 assists. Schilling, an ACWPC All-America and All-WWPA Second Team selection, recorded 36 goals, 17 assists and 18 steals while leading the Tritons with 14 penalties drawn and 71 ejections drawn. Schneider, an All-WWPA honorable mention, led UC San Diego with 46 assists to go with 23 goals and 51 steals.
The Tritons have big shoes to fill after losing six seniors to graduation, including 2017 WWPA Player of the Year Lauren Boyer and first-team All-WWPA selection Alexis Wieseler. UC San Diego also lost Hanna Schneider, Connie Wu and Rachel Emami, and WWPA honorable mention Lani Tittle, each of whom left the program with four WWPA titles and four NCAA Championship appearances.
The Tritons are coming off a 19-15 season and their fifth straight WWPA title in 2017. UC San Diego also hosted an opening-round National Collegiate Water Polo Championship game for the fourth year in a row.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS
Wagner enters the 2018 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championships with a 24-6 overall record and the winner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) ... The Seahawks finished 14-0 in conference play and defeated Marist College in the MAAC tournament championship game ... Wagner has won 16-consecutive games entering Tuesday night's contest, with its last loss coming to San Jose State on March 4 at the Harvard Invitational ... The Seahawks went 7-6 this season against ranked opponents ... Senior Kimberly Watson leads Wagner with 154 points on 106 goals and 48 assists, while Junior Erica Hardy has posted 141 points on 82 goals and 59 assists, as well as a team-high 76 steals.
UC San Diego is 6-2 all-time against Wagner, with the two teams splitting two NCAA Championship opening-round contests the last two seasons.
HEAD COACH BRAD KREUTZKAMP CLIMBS ALL-TIME WINS LIST
Head coach Brad Kreutzkamp is in his ninth season at the helm, and ranks second all-time in victories in UC San Diego women's water polo history with a record of 200-139 (.590). Kreutzkamp earned his milestone 200th career victory in the WWPA tournament championship game on April 29, and earlier this season, passed former head coach Larry Sanders' total of 180 wins amassed during his tenure from 2000-09. A four-time ACWPC Coach of the Year, Kreutzkamp has led the Tritons to five WWPA championships and five NCAA Championship appearances in his seven seasons. Last season, the Tritons captured their fifth straight WWPA title and sixth overall under Kreutzkamp's leadership, lifting UC San Diego to its sixth NCAA appearance. Kreutzkamp came to UC San Diego as an assistant coach with the women's team in 1999 before joining longtime head coach Denny Harper on the men's staff the following season. Prior to his arrival on the La Jolla campus, Kreutzkamp was the head coach of both the boy's and girl's varsity programs at Grossmont High School from 1996-99.
BIG (WEST) NEWS FOR UC SAN DIEGO ATHLETICS
On Nov. 27, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020 and will play a full Big West schedule. However, UC San Diego women's water polo joins the Big West Conference one year early in the fall of 2019. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Read the full press release here.
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