Photo by: Mark Cooley/Sideline Studios
UCSD will make its first NCAA Championship appearance this Friday through Sunday in Ann Arbor.
UCSD Takes No. 7 Seed to NCAA Championships to Face No. 2 Cal
Release: Thursday 05/12/2011 

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 14th-ranked UC San Diego women's water polo team earned the No. 7 seed for the 2011 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship and will face No. 2 Cal on Friday at noon in the first round.

THE SCHEDULE                 
Game No. 36
No. 7 UC San Diego (17-18) vs. No. 2 California (26-4)
Friday, May 13 - 12:00 p.m.
Donald B. Canham Natatorium - Ann Arbor, Mich.

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UCSD earned an automatic bid to the 2011 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship by virtue of its first Western Water Polo Association championship since 2000. UCSD upset eighth-ranked Loyola Marymount in the conference title game, 13-11, on May 1. The winner of the WWPA is one of four teams to receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament every year- the others being the conference winners of the College Water Polo Association, the Big West and the Mountain Pacific Sports Feder­ation. UCSD earned the No. 7 seed at this year's tournament, where they will match-up with MPSF champ, No. 2 California. Stanford (At-large) earned the tournament's No. 1 seed and will face Iona (MAAC Champion) after the Gaels beat Redlands (SCIAC), 13-7, on May 7 in a play-in game to determine the No. 8 seed. No. 3 UCLA (At-large) is slated to face No. 6 Indiana (CWPA Champion) while No. 4 USC (At-large) will clash with No. 5 UC Irvine (Big West Champion). The Championship is a single-elimination tournament with a losers' bracket to determine places three through eight.

UCSD took down No. 8 Loyola Marymount for the first time since 2008 with a 13-11 win over the Lions in the WWPA Championship on May 1. LMU, who spanked the Tritons 13-7 on February 18, had won back-to-back league titles and earned the No. 1 seed for the WWPA Championships due to its perfect 11-0 conference record. The second-seeded Tritons, who fell to the Lions in the 2010 WWPA championship match, came back from a two-goal deficit, capping the match with six goals in the final stanza. Sarah Lizotte scored four goals while Hanalei Crowell and Jessica Tran notched a hat trick of their own. Crowell scored the game-winner with 1:59 to play and Katherine Biehle followed with an insurance goal with 1:06 remaining. The Tritons' victory was their first against a ranked team this season; UCSD had been 0-17 in 2011 against top-20 teams.

UCSD has never appeared at the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship since the NCAA officially made women's water polo an official championship sport in 2001. UCSD had performed well on the national level in the postseason prior to the NCAA's official takeover of women's water polo. Between 1985-2000, UCSD logged nine appearances in the Collegiate National Championship, governed by USA Water Polo, including five national championships (1986, 1990-92, 1994). UCSD finished in one of the top three spots in the tournament eight times.

Three UCSD players have entered the single-season record book this year. Hanalei Crowell has 54 assists on the year, third-best in program history, and 73 steals, fourth-most in school history. Crowell needs just seven more assists to break the single-season record of 60 assists, set by Danielle Boyle in 2003.  Melissa Bartow has drawn nine penalties in 2011, which is tied for  sixth-best in a single season at UCSD. She also needs to draw just seven more ejections to give her 67 and move her into the top-10. Kirsten Bates has eight penalties-drawn, tied for eighth-best in a single season. She also has 54 steals in 2011, 11th-best in a season all-time.

UCSD placed four players on the WWPA All-Conference Team for the second consecutive season, it was announced last week. Hanalei Crowell earned WWPA First Team honors while Kirsten Bates earned WWPA Second Team accolades. Felicia Orozco was named WWPA All-Honorable Mention and Melissa Bartow was placed on the WWPA All-Freshman Team. The honors mark the first time to be elected to an all-conference squad for Orozco and Bartow, but is the second consecutive year that Bates has garnered a Second Team selection. Crowell also earned WWPA All-Freshman Team honors in 2008.

UCSD is ranked the highest it has been since being No. 14 from January 23-29, 2008... The last time UCSD was ranked higher than 14th was March 29-April 4, 2006, when the team was ranked No. 13... Hanalei Crowell is tied for second in terms of career assists in program history with 118. She needs just seven more assists to equal the school record of 125... Crowell's 158 steals are fifth-best in UCSD career history... Bates' 17 career penalties drawn are sixth most in program history... Freshman Sarah Lizotte has led the team in scoring in 10 of the team's last 11 contests, including a hat trick in eight of her last nine matches... Lizotte led the team with nine goals over the WWPA championships, while Bates tossed-in seven... Crowell racked-up 10 steals at the WWPA's... Katherine Biehle scored four times at the WWPA's... Lizotte has the second-highest goals per game average (2.5) of any player in the NCAA Championship behind Iona's Maggie Wood (4.4)... Orozco had six assists at the WWPA's. 


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