Photo by: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
UCSD Travels to WWPA Championship in Davis
Release: Thursday 11/21/2013 

Match 26
Saturday, Nov. 23 • 2 p.m.
2013 WWPA Championship
Schaal Aquatics Center • Davis
Tournament Homepage

Match 27
Sunday, Nov. 24 • TBD
2013 WWPA Championship
Schaal Aquatics Center • Davis

2013 Western Water Polo Association Championship (WWPA) tickets may be purchased online, at the UC Davis Ticket Office, or by calling (530) 752-AGS1. The Schaal Aquatics Center ticket office will sell tickets one hour before the first game of each day. You may purchase an all-session pass for access to all three days for $25 for adults and $15 for youth/students. A one-day pass for Friday and/or Saturday can be purchased for $10 for adults and $5 for youth/students. Championship Sunday prices are $15 for adults and $10 for youth/students.

UCSD and head coach Denny Harper have claimed 15 WWPA Championships throughout his tenure, most recently in 2011. That 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 Championships in the process. 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. Before that, from 1998-2002, UCSD claimed four of the five titles. All told, last season’s championship run by Air Force marked the first school not named LMU or UCSD to win the WWPA title since UC Davis won the tournament in 1997.

The WWPA tournament will feature all six teams from the conference, with four of the squads playing on Friday. Fourth-seeded LMU will face fifth-seed and defending-champion Air Force in the first game of the tournament at 12:15 p.m. The third-seed Santa Clara Broncos clash against sixth-seed California Baptist at 2:00 p.m. in the second game of the event. The No. 1 seed UC Davis Aggies will await the lowest advancing seeded team on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. in the semifinals, while second-seed UCSD will face be matched up with the highest advancing seeded team at 2:00 p.m. Saturday. Following the outcome of the matches, the fifth-place game will be played on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the third-place game will start at 12:15 p.m. and the championship is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. The winner will receive an automatic qualifier for the 2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championships. The tournament format will feature two play-in games to reach the four-team championship bracket, hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto on Dec. 7-8.

Six Tritons’ received All-Conference honors by the WWPA, the conference announced Tuesday. Joe Dietrich and Cameron Ravanbach (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) each were awarded spots on the All-WWPA First Team, while Tommy Friedrich (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) was tabbed a All-WWPA Second Team member. Juniors David Higginson (San Diego/The Bishop’s School) and Matt Michalko (San Diego/The Bishop’s School) 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 70 points, totaling 23 goals and 28 assists while adding 19 steals on the defensive side. Chase Cockerill is second on the team with 66 points, pouring in 27 goals and dishing out a team-high 39 assists. He also ranks second on the team with 41 steals. The final three Tritons with double-digits in the three categories are Higginson (34g, 31a, 22s), Jeffrey Jarvis (27g, 20a, 18s) and Luca De Vivo (20g, 20a, 61s). UCSD also possesses eight players with 10 or more ejections drawn, led by Michalko with 34. The team leader in goals scored is Friedrich with 43, while Ravanbach spearheads the defensive effort in goal with 245 saves.

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 his 43 scores, while Dietrich was tied for sixth with 40 goals. Cockerill finished atop the WWPA in assists with 39 helpers on the year, 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 are 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 a career-high 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 503 career saves. The La Jolla native entered UCSD’s top 10 all-time career saves list on Sept. 25 and sits at No. 9, 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 61. He sits at No. 9 just behind Douglas Cole’s mark of 64 set in 1999 at No. 7 overall … Cockerill sits six assists away from cracking the single-season top-10 list. His 39 dimes on the year is just behind Tom Schatz’ mark of 25 set in 1988 … The Tritons sport one senior on its roster, 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 (20g) … 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 76-50 in the third period overall … 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 583-429-4, with a winning percentage of .573. Harper has led the Tritons to 15 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) titles and 11 appearances in the NCAA national championships. 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.

UC Davis finished at 13-12 overall and 5-0 in conference play on the year. The Aggies closed the season on a four game win streak, defeating LMU, UCSD, SCU and Air Force to win the regular season WWPA title. The Aggies’ last loss came against Brown on Oct. 27. Chris Richardson leads UC Davis on offense with 48 goals scored, while Trevor Allen (36) and conference player of the year Bernie Rogers (43) have also poured in 30 or more goals for the Aggies. The three have combined for 127 of the 245 goals for UC Davis. On the defensive end, Philip Bates (199) and Zach Tudhope (86) have combined for 285 saves in split time in goal. Daniel Leyson is currently in his first season as head coach of UC Davis. 

UCSD currently sports a 44-14 all-time record against UC Davis. A potential matchup would mark the third time the teams will face each other in 2013. The Aggies earned a win at the SoCal Tournament on Oct. 12 and grabbed another win in WWPA action in La Jolla on Nov. 2. UCD received three goals apiece from Allen and Rogers in the 12-10 win at the SoCal tourney, while UCSD was led by four goals from Dietrich. At Canyonview, the two teams battled into overtime before the game was decided on a Rogers’ goal in sudden victory. Dietrich set a career-high with six goals in the loss for UCSD.

Santa Clara enters the tournament with a record of 15-14 overall and finished 3-2 in WWPA play. Since the start of November, the Broncos are 2-4 with losses coming against UCSD, Pomona-Pitzer, UCD and Cal. The wins came against LMU and Air Force in conference play. Santa Clara boasts a balanced offensive attack, sporting 11 players that have found the back of the cage at least 10 times. Tucker Carlson leads the team in scoring with 39 goals, while Theo Nasser has scored 33 times. Jimmy Moore facilitates the offense with a team-high 30 assists. On the defensive side, goalkeeper Matt Pritchett has totaled 321 blocks in 2013. Bronco head coach Keith Wilbur is in his 11th season at the helm.

UCSD holds a 38-3 all-time record against Santa Clara. The potential meeting marks the third time the two teams could clash in 2013, as the two schools split the season series 1-1. The Broncos grabbed a win, 11-10, at the NorCal Tournament on Sept. 22 in a thrilling sudden-death overtime match. The Broncos received three scores from Patrick Weiss and 12 saves from Pritchett. The Tritons were led by two goals apiece from Higginson, De Vivo and Toplak, while Ravanbach amassed 17 blocks in the cage. The Tritons avenged the loss with a 10-9 victory at Canyonview on Nov. 1 in comeback fashion. UCSD closed the match on a 9-3 run, powered by a balanced scoring effort as Dietrich, Toplak and De Vivo each tallied two scores apiece in the win. Ravanbach totaled 15 saves in the win for the Tritons.

Loyola Marymount, the preseason favorite in the WWPA, finished the regular season 12-13 overall and 2-3 in conference play. The Lions closed the final month of the season losing three of four games, with the lone win coming against WWPA foe California Baptist. John Loughran’s (17th season) club is led by sophomore Milutin Mitrovic, who was named all-conference first team after totaling 57 goals, 34 assists and 28 steals during the regular season.

UCSD is 52-23 all-time against conference rival LMU. The Tritons earned two victories this season against the Lions in two chances. UCSD won 11-7 at Canyonview on Sept. 25 before facing off at the SoCal Tournament on Oct. 13, a game UCSD won 9-7.

Air Force finished the regular season 5-13 overall and 1-4 in the WWPA. The Falcons closed the year on a five-game losing streak, with their last win coming on Oct. 19 against Pomona-Pitzer. Senior Josh Stedman, who totaled 41 goals in the regular season, leads Air Force. His total mark of 41 is 23 more than the next closest player, Dominic Vicino who scored 18 goals during the season. On the defensive side, sophomore Caleb Guarino blocked 145 shots in the cage. Head coach Jeff Heidmous, who is in his 21st season, leads the Falcons.

UCSD holds a 59-14 all-time series record against Air Force. The Tritons won the season series 2-0 in 2013. The Tritons notched a win on Sept. 22 at the NorCal Tournament, a game UCSD jumped out 8-1 at halftime before winning, 15-7. Higginson and Michalko scored three goals apiece in the victory to lead the Tritons, while Ravanbach recorded eight saves in the cage. On Oct. 25, the Tritons poured in 15 goals to win 15-10 behind three scores apiece from Cockerill, Dietrich, Friedrich and Michalko.

California Baptist, in its first season in the WWPA, concluded the regular season at 15-15 overall and 0-5 in conference play. The Lancers finished the last month of the season playing .500 water polo, earning wins over Redlands and Fresno Pacific, while falling to LMU and Concordia of Irvine. Senior Matt Puig, who totaled 66 goals in 2013, powers CBU on offense. On the defensive side, freshman Joseph Moorman totaled 240 saves for an average of 13 blocks per game. He snagged 20 saves in a win against Redlands, good for the second-highest single-game total in CBU history. Rick Rowland, in his 15th season at the helm, leads the Lancers.

The Tritons hold a perfect record against the Lancers in five different meetings. UCSD won the conference matchup this season on Oct. 11, 9-8. Cockerill and Dietrich scored three goals apiece in the win, while Ravanbach recorded nine saves in the cage for the Tritons.

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Should the Tritons win the conference tournament, they would receive an automatic qualifier for the 2013 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championships. The tournament format will feature two play-in games to reach the four-team championship bracket, hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto on Dec. 7-8.


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