LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's water polo team signed 10 new faces to National Letters of Intent, head coach Denny Harper announced on Tuesday.
UCSD in the fall will be true freshmen Joe Dietrich, Jeff Jarvis, David
Higginson, Matt Michalko, Matt Rahn, Daniel Schwartz, Tician Toplak, Shane
Troutman and Alec Williams. Nick Michels, the lone junior college transfer,
will join the squad as well.
"This is clearly one of the largest, and possibly one of the best incoming groups we have put together since 2000. They are all extremely talented and more than ready to make the transition to the elite collegiate level," said Harper. "I have to give assistant coach Matt Ustaszewski a ton of credit for all of the time and energy he has put into bringing such a great group in to continue their athletic and academic careers here at UC San Diego."
Dietrich comes to UCSD from Acalenes High School in Lafayette, Calif. A Utility for Lamorinda Water Polo Club, Dietrich was recognized as a Second Team All-American and the NCA Division I Player of the Year. A NCA Division I Champion, Harper believes Dietrich will be able to contribute to the team in his first year in Triton colors.
"Joe is all ready up and running at the collegiate level," said Harper. "We are really stoked at that he has chosen UCSD to continue his outstanding polo and academic career. I really see him being a big part of our fall campaign even as a freshman."
A Driver out of Mater Dei High School, Jeff Jarvis was part of the Monarch squads who won 2009 and 2010 CIF-SS Division I Championship titles.
"Jeff is the type of player that we need to help with two-meter defense and counter attacking and I expect him to be a big contributor this fall," said Harper.
The Tritons will have two San Diego standouts joining them in the fall, as Higginson and Michalko hail from The Bishops School in La Jolla. The Knights defeated Coronado High School 10-5 to win the CIF San Diego Division II Championship in 2010. Michalko, a member of the United States National Youth Team, was a First Team All-CIF San Diego selection and was honored as a Third Team All-American.
"Talk about a blue chip recruit, I expect Matt to make a statement that two-meter offense is his and his alone," said Harper. "Matt could play for anyone in the country and we feel very fortunate that he has chosen to be a Triton."
and Michalko are members of the San Diego Shores Water Polo Club. Higginson was
honored as an Honorable Mention All-American and Second Team All-CIF San Diego.
"David does all the little things to make him so successful at this sport. He makes everyone around him compete at the highest level and is a proven winner."
Michels, a junior goalkeeper out of Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., was a First Team All-American and First Team All-Northern California selection. Michels played his prep years at Las Lomas High School, also in Pleasant Hill.
"With great height and experience, I don't see how he will not ultimately have his day in the cage. Nick is simply too talented," said Harper.
Sticking with the Diablo theme, Rahn is out of Diablo Water Polo Club and Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif. He earned Second Team All-NCA Division I accolades and was placed on the All-East Bay Third Team. Injuries kept Rahn from greater individual accolades, but Harper expects much from the two-meter player.
"Matt is a real gem in the rough and will make an impact offensively as he has a real knack for scoring," said Harper.
The second goalie to sign an NLI for UCSD, Schwartz hails from perennial powerhouse Soquel High School. He earned Second Team All-CCS and First Team ALL-SCCAL while competing for the Knights.
"Again, a player from a very successful high school program," said Harper. "I'm certain that Daniel will become a great goaltender her at UCSD."
Toplak, commonly called 'Tiki', played for Huntington Beach Water Polo Club and starred at Huntington Beach High School. An Eighth Team All-American, Toplak was named First Team All-Sunset League in addition to being awarded a Second Team All-CIFSS Division distinction.
"A very talented player at two meters, Tiki will be a strong contributor to our successes and will hopefully transition quickly to the level we play at," said Harper.
Troutman is a three-time All-Big VIII League honoree out of Santiago High School. A member of Chawp Water Polo Club of Fontana, Calif., Troutman was named the Big VIII League Co-Defensive Player of the Year and was also the team's leading scorer.
"Shane is a real untapped talent that we feel very fortunate to have signed," said Harper. "His defensive attitude and counter attack speed will make it tough to keep him out of the pool."
Lastly, Williams hails from Bonita High School in La Verne, Calif. He earned First Team All-CIFSS Division V, First Team All-San Gabriel Valley and was named the Miramonte League Most Valuable Player.
"I wish everyone played with the intensity of Alec," said Harper. "The consummate all-around player, I expect him to have a great career here over the next several years."
UCSD will use its newest 10 players to improve on 2010's 13-13 overall record and fourth-place finish at the WWPA Championships.