Photo by: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
Chase Cockerill and the UCSD men's water polo team will be making their 12th appearance in the NCAA Championship.
Tritons Earn No. 4 Seed; Set to Face St. Francis at NCAA Championship
Release: Tuesday 12/03/2013 

Match 28
No. 11 St. Francis (22-10)
Thursday, Dec. 5 • 1 p.m.
2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship
Avery Aquatic Center • Palo Alto
Tournament Homepage / Interactive Bracket

Match 29
No. 4 USC (26-4)
Saturday, Dec. 7 • 1 p.m.
2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship
Avery Aquatic Center • Palo Alto
Live Video

Match 30
Sunday, Dec. 8 • TBD
2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship
Avery Aquatic Center • Palo Alto
Live Video

The 2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship features two play-in games to the four-team, single elimination bracket. Four conferences were granted an automatic qualifier into the bracket or play-in game, while the final two teams were selected at-large without any geographical restrictions. St. Francis represents the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA), USC won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), Whittier advanced from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) and UCSD represents the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA). The two at-large bids were granted to Pacific and Stanford of the MPSF. The top-two teams have been seeded and separated into the four-team bracket, highlighted by No. 1 seed USC and No. 2 seed Pacific. The third seed, Stanford, will face sixth-seeded Whittier, while the fourth-seed UCSD will face fifth-seeded St. Francis in the play-in games. USC will face the UCSD/St. Francis winner in one semifinal and Pacific will face the Stanford/Whittier winner in the other semifinal on Saturday, Dec. 7. The championship will be played on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. with the third-place match taking place prior at 1 p.m. You can find an interactive bracket by clicking here.

Tickets for the play-in game can be purchased at the gate of Avery Aquatic Center for $5 (adults) and $3 (students/youth/seniors). Saturday and Sunday tickets are available in a two-day package deal until Saturday, Dec. 7.  A multi-day ticket can be purchased for $40 (adults) and $30 (student/youth/seniors), while single-day tickets can be purchased for $25 (adults) and $18 (student/youth/seniors). Tickets may be purchased online by clicking here.

2013 marks the 12th time the Tritons have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The 2000 campaign proved to be a banner year as the Tritons defeated USC, 9-8, in a national semifinal in Malibu to become the first non-Division I team to play in the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship Game. UCSD finished third in 1995, 1998 and 2006, fourth in 1999, 2002 and 2011, sixth in 1989, 1991 and 1992, and eighth in 1993. In 1995, Harper's Tritons became the first Division III team to advance to the NCAA Final Four, repeating the feat in 1998 and at Canyonview in 1999. UCSD most recently competed in the national tournament in 2011 at Cal. The Tritons fell to national runner-up UCLA in the semifinals that year before suffering a setback against Princeton, 10-7, in the third-place match. USC eventually won the title that year and has won five-consecutive national titles, dating back to 2008.

The Tritons claimed their 16th WWPA Championship with a 6-4 win over UC Davis on Nov. 24. Cameron Ravanbach (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) stopped 16 Aggie shots, while David Higginson (San Diego/The Bishop’s School) and Chase Cockerill each scored a pair of goals for UCSD in the win. Overall, the Triton defense held the Aggies to 4-32 shooting with brilliant play at the two-meter line all match. The offensive production from Higginson and Cockerill was complemented with a score each from Matt Michalko (San Diego/The Bishop’s School) and Luca De Vivo. The Tritons reached the title match by defeating Santa Clara in the semifinals, 8-4. Ravanbach recorded a career and school-high 21 saves in the win, while Higginson and Tommy Friedrich (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) scored three goals apiece. Ravanbach was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after blocking 37 shots in two games. Higginson, Friedrich and Ravanbach earned All-Tournament First Team, while Joe Dietrich earned second-team All-Tournament.

UCSD and head coach Denny Harper have claimed 16 WWPA Championships throughout his tenure after winning the conference title this season. The 2013 championship earned the Tritons their second title in three years. Before this season, the 2011 squad grabbed an 8-7 win over UC Davis on a game-winning goal from Josh Stiling and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship to win the WWPA. Last season in 2012, UCSD fell 9-7 in the championship game to Air Force, who the Tritons’ had beaten three times earlier in the season. From 2003-10, Loyola Marymount won seven of the eight conference titles, only losing to the Tritons in 2006. Previously from 1998-2002, UCSD claimed four of the five titles.

Six Tritons received All-Conference honors by the WWPA, the conference announced on Nov. 19. Dietrich and Ravanbach each were awarded spots on the All-WWPA First Team, while Friedrich was tabbed an All-WWPA Second Team member. Higginson and Michalko also received honorable mention All-Conference distinctions. Andy Moore was named to the WWPA All-Freshman team as the final Triton award winner. UCSD’s six honorees tie the largest group to receive WWPA accolades in program history. Six Tritons were selected to all-conference teams in 2012.

The Tritons' boast a well-balanced offensive attack, highlighted by five players that have totaled double-digits in goals, assists and steals in 2013. Dietrich leads the UCSD offense with 73 points, totaling 44 goals and 29 assists, while adding 22 steals on the defensive side. Cockerill also leads the Triton offense with 73 points, pouring in 29 goals and dishing out a team-high 44 assists. He also ranks second on the team with 50 steals. The final three Tritons with double-digits in the three categories are Higginson (39g, 32a, 26s), Jeffrey Jarvis (27g, 20a, 19s) and De Vivo (21g, 21a, 65s). UCSD also possesses eight players with 10 or more ejections drawn, led by Michalko with 36. The team leader in goals scored is Friedrich with 46, while Ravanbach spearheads the defensive effort in goal with 281 saves on the season.

UCSD finished the conference regular season with two of the top-10 leaders in goals scored in the conference. Friedrich ranked tied for fourth in the WWPA with 43 scores at the end of the regular season, while Dietrich was tied for sixth with 40 goals. Cockerill finished atop the WWPA in assists with 39 helpers in the regular season, while Higginson was third on the list with 31 dimes. De Vivo ranked second in steals with 61 and Cockerill was fourth with 41 thefts. Ravanbach finished the regular season ranked second in saves with 242. As a team, the Tritons were first in assists with 197 to average 7.88 helpers per game, first in steals with 287 for an average of 11.48 thefts per game and second in goals scored with 257 for an average of 10.28 scores per game.

Ravanbach and Dietrich have been named Kap/7 WWPA Players of the Week this season for UCSD. Ravanbach earned the honor for the week of Oct. 7-13. Trevor Allen of UC Davis also earned the weekly honor. The award was the second of his career, previously being honored on Oct. 24, 2012 after recording 19 stops against Loyola Marymount last season. The junior goalkeeper earned the award after amassing 50 total saves in the cage, highlighted by a 15-save performance in a win over LMU. Dietrich was honored for the week of Sept. 23-29. Caleb Guarino of Air Force also earned the weekly honor. The junior totaled seven goals, four assists and three steals in the three games for the Tritons. The award marked the first of his career.

Head coach Denny Harper managed his 1,000th career game on Sept. 21 … Ravanbach, a junior goalkeeper, sits at 540 career saves. The La Jolla native entered UCSD’s top 10 all-time career saves list on Sept. 25 and sits at No. 8, passing assistant coach Glenn Busch’s (1997-00) mark of 371 in the process … De Vivo cracked UCSD’s single season top-10 ranks in steals with 65. He sits at No. 5; just behind Michael Nalu’s mark of 69 set in 1999 at No. 4 overall … Cockerill sits one assist away from cracking the single-season top-10 list. His 44 dimes on the year is just behind Tom Schatz’ mark of 45 set in 1988 at No. 10 … The Tritons sport one senior on its roster (Friedrich), yet have seven freshman … Seven different players have tallied their first career goal as a Triton this season: Daniel Straub (3g), Bryan Lee (3g), Connor Watson (5g), Andy Moore (7g), Nick Alexander (5g) and De Vivo (21g) … Daniel Schwartz made his Triton debut in goal in 2013, and has totaled 16 saves on the year in limited action … UCSD is outscoring opponents 80-51 in the third period overall … UCSD has capitalized on 69 of 185 man advantages (37%), while limiting the opponent to 62 of 182 6-on-5’s (34%) … UCSD has created 144 counter-attack opportunities to 108 opponent counters … The Tritons have five players with local ties: Ravanbach (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), Straub (San Diego/Patrick Henry HS), Friedrich (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Michalko (San Diego/The Bishop’s School) and Higginson (San Diego/The Bishop’s School).

Harper is in his 34th season leading the Tritons. He has compiled a career record of 585-429-4, with a winning percentage of .575. Harper has led the Tritons to 16 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) titles and 12 appearances in the NCAA national championship tournament. He has been named WWPA Coach of the Year 16 times and the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPA) Division II Coach of the Year five times. During the 2006 season, the Tritons set a program record in wins, completing a 26-6 season with their 14th WWPA title and a third-place finish at the NCAA National Championship tournament. Harper, a 1978 graduate of San Diego State University, began coaching at Rancho Alamitos High School, Indio High School and SDSU before coming to UCSD.

St. Francis enters the tournament on a seven-game winning streak, dating back to Nov. 12. The Terriers ran through the Northern Division Championships of the CWPA, before winning the Eastern Championships with an 11-9 win over Princeton to win the CWPA title. St. Francis currently sports an overall record of 22-10. Igor Mladenovic, a senior goalkeeper from Serbia, was named the CWPA Northern Division Player of the Year and has recorded 232 saves on the year. Lazar Komadinic, the CWPA Rookie of the Year, has totaled 48 goals and 46 steals in 2013. Senior Bosko Stankovic (44g), Northern Division First Team, and junior Vuk Vujosevic (51g), second team Northern Division, also lead the Terrier offense in scoring. Srdjan Mihaljevic is currently in his first season as head coach of the Terriers.

UCSD currently holds a 3-1 overall record against St. Francis. The last meeting came in 2007, a 16-8 decision won by the Terriers on Oct. 18 at the SoCal Tournament in Irvine. In 2005 at the Princeton Invitational, UCSD prevailed in overtime in an 11-10 contest before the Tritons earned another victory that season a month later, 17-9, at the NorCal Tournament in Berkeley. The final two victories for UCSD came in 2004, a 10-6 decision, and in 1998, a 13-6 victory.

USC enters as the five-time defending national champion and posts a 26-4 overall record in 2013. After falling to UCLA on Nov. 21, the Trojans closed the year with three straight wins to earn the number one seed at the national tournament and win the MPSF title. The Trojans have won eight national championship titles total. Kostas Genidounias leads USC with 76 goals, while Nikola Vavic has poured in 75 scores. James Clark leads the Trojans in the cage with 233 saves and averages 9.61 saves per game. Jovan Vavic is currently in his 19th season at the helm of USC.

USC is 33-2 all-time against UCSD. The two teams clashed on Sept. 14 earlier this season, a game won by the Trojans 17-5. USC holds a 2-1 record over UCSD in NCAA Championship play, with the lone win coming in 2000 in the semifinals for the Tritons in Malibu.

Pacific enters with a 22-4 overall record. The Tigers suffered a setback against USC in the MPSF semifinals, 18-13, before they rebounded with a 10-9 win over UCLA in the third-place game to help earn their at-large bid. Pacific has put together a historic season in 2013, earning the nation’s No. 1 ranking on Nov. 8 for the first time in school history and will make its second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Balazs Erdelyi leads the Tigers and has scored 85 goals on the year, while teammate Goran Tomasevic has poured in 62 scores. Alex Malkis powers the Pacific defense in goal with 290 saves for an average of 12.85 per game. James Graham is currently in his sixth season as head coach of the Tigers.

UCSD holds an 11-9 advantage all-time against Pacific. The last meeting came in 2010 when the Tigers prevailed 12-5.

Stanford (19-4) closed out the year with a 11-1 stretch over the seasons last month and a half, with the only loss coming in the MPSF title game against USC, 10-8. The run started on Oct. 19 with an 8-6 win over UCLA and earned the Cardinal the final at-large bid in the NCAA Championship. Stanford has won 10 NCAA titles total in 1976, 1978, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1993-94, and 2001-02. Bret Bonanni leads the Cardinal on offense with 78 goals, while Drew Holland holds down the defense with 151 saves on the year. Head coach John Vargas is currently in his 12th season.

Stanford holds a commanding 32-0 all-time record against the Tritons. The Cardinal won the last meeting in 2010, a 22-12 decision. At the NCAA Championship, Stanford holds a 4-0 record against UCSD.

Whittier enters with a 20-12 overall record in 2013. The Poets beat Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 10-9 in sudden victory to earn the automatic qualifier to the national tournament by winning the SCIAC Championship. Freshman Wedge Molthen totaled eight goals over the championship run and has powered the Poets to the schools first ever spot in the NCAA National Championship field.

UCSD is 21-0 all-time against Whittier. The two schools met twice in 2013, as the Tritons earned a 17-7 win and a 13-6 victory.

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