LA JOLLA, Calif. — The No. 12-ranked University of California San Diego men's water polo team takes a short trip to Orange County on Saturday, Sept. 8, as the Tritons take on No. 10 UC Irvine and No. 8 Pepperdine at the GCC vs. WWPA Challenge Cup hosted by UC Irvine
UC San Diego (3-1, 0-0 WWPA) faces UC Irvine at 10 a.m., before finishing the day against Pepperdine at 4:50 p.m. Both contests will be held at UCI's Anteater Aquatics Complex and live stats will be available.
Head coach Denny Harper on this weekend's GCC vs. WWPA Challenge Cup: "When we cross paths with teams of this caliber, it's always a great opportunity for us to gage where we're at. Coming off last week's sudden-victory loss to Irvine, we certainly feel like we're a viable top-10 team.
"When you face GCC teams it's tough — now we have to play two in one day. That's a tall order, but it's the nature of our sport. We're looking forward to the challenge and the goal is to have a 2-0 day.
UC SAN DIEGO VITALS
• Overall: 3-1
• WWPA: 0-0
• Home: 3-1
• Road: 0-0
• Neutral: 0-0
• Ranking (CWPA): 12
• Against Ranked Teams: 2-1
• Current Streak: Won 2
GET TO KNOW THE 2018 TRITONS
UC San Diego returns six seniors and welcomes seven newcomers, six of which are freshmen. Eight of the team's nine-leading scorers from 2017 are back on campus, led by top scorer and ACWPC All-American Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt. In addition, redshirt junior goalkeeper Jack Turner rejoins the Tritons after missing the entire 2017 season due to injury. Meanwhile, junior Skyler Munatones, senior Alessandro Valania, junior Cooper Milton, senior Kevin Asplund, junior Noah Carniglia, sophomore Kacper Langiewicz, senior Carson Ivancovich, redshirt sophomore Jack Ranj and redshirt junior goalkeeper Sam Thompson remain form last season's squad, while senior Cole Martinez and junior transfer Myles Martinez are also expected to have a big role.
Twenty-six of the 29 Tritons on the roster are California natives, with the exception of junior Alessandro Valania from Savona, Italy as well as freshmen brothers Gonzalo Rivera and Jorge Rivera from Madrid, Spain. Local products include Kacper Langiewicz (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS), Cooper Milton (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), Cole Martinez (San Diego/La Jolla HS), Myles Martinez (San Diego/La Jolla HS), Collin Sullivan (Escondido/San Pasqual HS), Jack Ranj (San Diego/Westview HS), Konstantin Karlov (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Bennett Kienast (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS).
UC San Diego finished the 2017 season at 11-14 overall, highlighted by a runner-up performance in the WWPA Tournament. The Tritons, the tournament's No. 2 seed with a 6-1 regular-season league record, defeated Santa Clara and California Baptist to advance to the WWPA Championship game against UC Davis. UC San Diego fought hard against No. 8-ranked UC Davis, but ultimately fell by a score of 9-6.
In 2017, the Tritons won nine games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Top-20 poll throughout the course of the season. UC San Diego was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally and faced a total of 11 teams ranked in the top-10.
Head coach Denny Harper was named the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Division II Coach of the Year, while senior Arman Momdzhyan was tabbed Player of the Year. In addition, goalkeeper Sam Thompson and utility Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt each earned All-America accolades.
TRITONS PICKED SECOND IN WWPA COACHES' POLL
The UC San Diego men's water polo team was predicted to finish second in the 2018 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) standings according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches. It is the second-consecutive season UC San Diego was picked to finish second.
2018 WWPA MEN'S PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. UC Davis, 49 points (7 first-place votes)
2. UC San Diego, 42 (1)
T-3. Cal Baptist, 34
T-3. Loyola Marymount, 34
5. Air Force, 22
6. Santa Clara, 20
7. Concordia, 16
8. Fresno Pacific, 7
ALL-TIME AGAINST THE ANTEATERS
The Tritons are 12-46 all-time against UC Irvine. The two teams have already played each other once this season, with the Anteaters earning a sudden-victory overtime win, 11-12, at the 2018 Triton Invitational on Sept. 1.
ALL-TIME AGAINST THE WAVES
The Tritons are 46-7-1 all-time against Pepperdine. The two teams last played each other in 2017 with the Waves earning a home victory by a score of 12-9.
HEAD COACH DENNY HARPER
UC San Diego head coach Denny Harper is in his 39th season leading the Tritons with a career record of 6643-478-4 (.576). An 18-time WWPA Coach of the Year and 15-time ACWPC National Coach of the Year honoree, Harper has led the Tritons to 18 WWPA titles and 14 appearances in the NCAA Championship. Last season, he was named the ACWPC Division II Coach of the Year for the seventh-straight year.
UC San Diego Athletics has partnered with Advanced-Online to provide a web-based, on-demand option for Triton apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 1,000 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours. Visit the site at UCSDTritonsGear.com.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UC San Diego home athletic events, and much more!
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UC San Diego will continue it's play on the road with two non-conference matchups following this weekend's GCC vs. WWPA Challenge Cup. The Tritons will take on Cal Lutheran on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. and UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 12 p.m.