LOS ANGELES - The 20-ranked UC San Diego women's water polo team was picked to finish the 2013 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) season in second, after earning 43 points in the annual Preseason Coaches poll, it was announced Wednesday, Jan. 16.
Fourth-year head coach Brad Kreutzkamp enters 2013 with 19 student-athletes on his roster, featuring nine returning letter winners. The group is highlighted by returning award winners Sarah Lizotte (2012 First Team All-WWPA), Rachel Brooks (2012 WWPA All-Freshman Team), and Melissa Bartow (2011 WWPA All-Freshman Team).
UCSD opens its 2013 schedule on Jan. 26 in Santa Barbara at the UCSB Winter Invitational. The squad will face a mix of opponents, including games against conference teams Santa Clara and Sonoma State. UCSD will host the annual Triton Invitational Feb. 9 and 10. The tournament will feature 16 teams from various divisions.
The Tritons came up just seven points behind top-ranked, returning league champions Loyola Marymount. The Lions earned the maximum seven first place votes while UCSD claimed one.
LMU claimed the maximum 49 points to be the favorite to earn their 10th WWPA title in 13 years, as voted on by the eight head coaches of the WWPA. UC San Diego earned 43 points to finish second in the poll. Both LMU and UC San Diego have split the last two WWPA titles with the Tritons winning in 2011 and the Lions in 2012.
While newcomers will be asked to fill big minutes across the WWPA, as just five first and second-team All-WWPA selections return compared to 13 from a year ago, four of the five provided a ton of firepower in the WWPA. Joining Lizotte are fellow first-team selections Alexandra Honny from LMU and Claire Pierce from Cal State East Bay, along with second-team selection Misty Vu of Cal State San Bernardino all finish in the top-seven in the WWPA last season in scoring. Vu finished first, followed by Lizotte in third, Honny in sixth and Pierce in seventh.
Santa Clara was tabbed to finish third with 36 points, followed by Colorado State with 30. The Broncos and Rams both return their leading scorers. Senior Caroline Young led the Rams in scoring and assists in 2012, while junior Claire Eadington was the 2011 WWPA Newcomer of the Year and led the Broncos in scoring and was second in assists a year ago. The Broncos also bring back 2012 Co-WWPA Newcomer of the Year Ashleigh Bandimere, who was third on the team in scoring.
Cal State East Bay was picked fifth with 24 points, followed by Sonoma State in sixth with 20 points. The Pioneers took third last season thanks to Pierce and fellow scorer junior Sara Hudyn, who was among the top-25 in the WWPA in scoring. The Seawolves are led by goalie Ariel Lockshaw, who was the other CoWWPA Newcomer of the Year and second-team All-WWPA selection. She was second in the WWPA in saves.
Rounding out the 2013 Coaches' poll was Cal State Monterey Bay (15 points) and Cal State San Bernardino (7 points). The Otters stunned CSU Bakersfield last year in the WWPA Championships and finished a program best fourth. They are led by senior team captain Jackie Walters. The Coyotes were led by Vu, who was the WWPA's leading scorer in 2012.
The 2013 Western Water Polo Women's Championship will be held April 26 - 28 and hosted by Santa Clara University at the Sullivan Aquatic Center. For complete championship information, visit www.TheWWPA.com.
2013 WWPA Women's Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Loyola Marymount - 49 Points (7 first place votes)
2. UC San Diego - 43 points (1)
3. Santa Clara - 36 points
4. Colorado State - 30 points
5. Cal State East Bay - 24 points
6. Sonoma State - 20 points
7. Cal State Monterey Bay - 15 points
8. Cal State San Bernardino - 7 point
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