Tritons Look to Build Upon Last Season's Success in 2019
LA JOLLA, Calif. — Denny Harper would like nothing more than to celebrate a conference title where his life began.
Entering his 40th season as University of California San Diego head coach, Harper leads the Tritons into 2019 with an eye toward the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships Nov. 22-24 hosted by California Baptist in Riverside, Calif.
Harper was born in Riverside, and will look to cap off 2019 with his second-straight conference crown and 20th overall in his storied career.
"It's not far from San Diego, so we'll have a huge alumni crowd who can make the trip," said Harper. "(California Baptist) is a division-I school with a good coach and a good pool. I think they'll put together a great tournament.
"It's my 40th season and it's in my hometown. I'd like to see us win that."
UC San Diego will have four home games at Canyonview Aquatic Center, along with an additional four home contests during the annual Triton Invitational on Sept. 7-8. The 14-team, two-day tournament includes California, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and others.
The Tritons will play host to single games against LMU on Sept. 25, Santa Clara on Oct. 18, Air Force on Oct. 25 and conclude their home slate against UC Davis on Nov. 9. In addition, the alumni game will be held on Oct. 19, with annual exhibition contests against Sunset San Diego and San Francisco Olympic Club set for Nov. 16.
UC San Diego's schedule is also highlighted by a couple big-time midseason tournaments away from home.
The Tritons head to the east coast to compete in the Princeton Invitational on Sept. 13-14, and are in a loaded field for the SoCal Invitational Sept. 27-29 in Los Angeles hosted by UCLA. UC San Diego will also be part of the Gary Troyer Tournament hosted by Pomona-Pitzer on Oct. 4-5.
"The Princeton trip is always a big one," said Harper. "Everybody will be looking forward to that.
"(The tournaments) will be very challenging, but we have a team that needs to be challenged."
A New Beginning
The Tritons look to build off success and momentum gained in 2018, but will certainly meet new challenges in 2019.
UC San Diego (20-6) won the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Tournament and regular-season championships in 2018, en route to an appearance in the National Collegiate Water Polo Semifinals and a No. 5 final ranking in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Top 20. It was the program's 19th WWPA championship.
In addition, the Tritons won 20 games for the first time since 2008 and had the program’s second-best all-time winning percentage of .769.
UC San Diego returns Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Division-II Player of the Year goalkeeper Jack Turner, as well as First-Team selections Skyler Munatones and Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt.
Replicating last season's success will be a challenge, however.
"We're all pretty excited about what we've got on paper, but we've still got to work our tails off," said Harper. "Everyone knows that.
"In our conference, all of those teams are going to be really good."
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 82 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
Follow The Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@ucsdtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (ucsdtritons). In addition, you can follow UC San Diego men's water polo on Twitter (@ucsdmwp), Instagram (@ucsdmwp) and Facebook (ucsdtritonsmwp).