USA Today Previews NCAA Water Polo Championships at Harvard

USA Today Previews NCAA Water Polo Championships at Harvard

Blodgett Pool will become the first host of the NCAA Water Polo Championship on the East Coast in the 13-year history of the event (photo Harvard Athletic Communications).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- This morning, USA Today released its preview of the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championships, which is being played at Harvard University May 10-12. Iona and Stanford will kick off the tournament today at 1:45 p.m. at Blodgett Pool. Tickets are available at the door or by clicking here.

Previewing the NCAA women's water polo tournament
by Craig Bennett, USA Today 

The West Coast crowd — only UCLA, Southern California and Stanford have won NCAA titles and six of the eight teams in this year's field are from west of the Rockies — packs up and heads for Boston and Harvard's Blodgett Pool for the 2013 NCAA women's water polo tournament for competition beginning Friday. A quick look at the schedule and the eight teams in the field:

THE SCHEDULE (times p.m. Eastern)

Friday: Iona vs. Stanford, 1:45; Princeton vs. UCLA, 3:30; Pomona Pitzer (Calif.) vs. Southern California, 5:15; UC-San Diego vs. Hawaii, 7

 Consolations, 1:45 and 3:30; semifinals, 5:15 and 7

 Seventh-place game, noon; fifth-place game, 1:45; third-place game, 3:30; championship, 5:15

Television: No live over-the-air or cable coverage. All matches will be streamed live via


• No. 1 seed Southern California (24-1)

Championship history: 10th appearance, two titles (2004, 2010).

Coach: Jovan Vavic, 19th season with Trojans. He also coaches the USC men's team, and those Trojans are five-time defending NCAA champs.

Top scorers: Monica Vavic, So. (71 goals); Kaleigh Gilchrist, Jr. (41 goals); Hannah Buckling, Jr. (33 goals).

In goal: Flora Bolonyai, Jr. (5.04 goals-against avg., 7.91 saves a game).

Worth noting: Vavic, daughter of the head coach, is fourth on the school's single-season goals list and is 10 shy of the No. 2 mark. ... The Trojans avenged their only loss by beating Stanford 11-7 to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. ... Bolonyai was the goalkeeper for Hungary in the 2012 Olympics, and freshman driver Anni Espar (25 goals this season) was the second-leading scorer in the Olympic tournament, playing for runner-up Spain.

• No. 2 Stanford (27-2)

Championship history: 13th appearance, three titles (2002, 2011, 2012)

Coach: John Tanner, 16th season with Cardinal.

Top scorers: Melissa Seidemann, Sr. (67 goals); Maggie Steffens, Fr. (54 goals); Kiley Neushel, So. (48 goals).

In goal: Kate Baldoni, Sr. (4.67 goals-against average, 7.47 saves a game).

Worth noting: Steffens led all players in scoring in the 2012 Olympics (21 goals) and was chosen tournament MVP as the USA won gold. Seidemann and junior Annika Dries (32 goals this season) also were on the Olympic team. ... Stanford is the only team to qualify for every tournament since the NCAA began sponsoring a championship in 2001.

• No. 3 UCLA (26-6)

Championship history: 12th appearance, seven titles (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).

Coach: Brandon Brooks, fourth season with Bruins.

Top scorers: Emily Donohoe, So. (63 goals); Rachel Fattal, Fr. (62 goals); Alexa Tielmann, Fr. (28 goals).

In goal: Sami Hill, So. (6.25 goals-against average, 10.71 saves a game).

Worth noting: Bruins have never lost to a non-California team in the NCAA tournament. ... Fattal was selected the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation newcomer of the year, the first UCLA water polo player (male or female) to get that honor. ... Five of UCLA's six losses this season were to Southern California or Stanford.

• No. 4 Hawaii (21-9)

Championship history: Fourth appearance, no titles.

Coach: Maureen Cole, second season with Rainbow Wahine. Then known as Maureen Flanagan, she played on UCLA's NCAA title teams in 2001 and '03.

Top scorers: Monika Eggens, Sr. (93 goals); Amarens Genee, Sr. (59 goals); Paula Chillida Esforzado, Fr. (50 goals).

In goal: Amy Carlson, Jr. (7.49 goals-against avg., 6.41 saves a game).

Worth noting: The Rainbow Wahine enter on an eight-game winning streak after edging UC-Irvine in double overtime for the Big West tournament title and an automatic bid. This is Hawaii's first season in the Big West. ... Eggens, who set a Big West season record for goals, is five goals shy of the school season record. She already owns the career record with 244.

• No. 5 UC-San Diego (25-13)

Championship history: Second appearance, no titles.

Coach: Brad Kreutzkamp, fourth season with Tritons.

Top scorers: Sarah Lizotte, Jr. (83 goals); Alexis Wieseler, Fr. (66 goals); Melissa Barlow, Jr. (50 goals).

In goal: Courtney Miller, Fr. (7.34 goals-against average, 8.89 saves a game).

Worth noting: Lizotte, the Western Water Polo Association player of the year, is eight goals shy of the school season record she set last year. ... UC-San Diego competes in Division II in most sports. It won the WWPA tournament to get an automatic bid. ... Sophomore Jolene Guiliana has set a school season record with 64 assists (she also has 35 goals) and Miller a school record with 338 saves.

• No. 6 Princeton (26-5)

Championship history: Second appearance, no titles.

Coach: Luis Nicolao, 14th season with Tigers.

Top scorers: Katie Rigler, Jr. (61 goals); Ashley Hatcher, So. (36 goals); Saranna Soroka, Sr. (33 goals).

In goal: Ashleigh Johnson, Fr. (6.07 goals-against avg., 12.29 saves a game).

Worth noting: Tigers are 0-5 all-time against quarterfinals foe UCLA. ... Rigler's 193 career goals are fourth in Princeton history. ... Johnson set a school record for saves (19) in her first college start and has gone on to set a season record (328) as well.

• No. 7 Iona (21-8)

Championship history: Third appearance, no titles.

Coach: Brian Kelly, 18th season with Gaels.

Top scorers: Amy Olsen, Jr. (96 goals); Alyssa Turza, Sr. (83 goals); Erika Lauritis, Jr. (64 goals).

In goal: Marisa Gaynor, Jr. (9.45 goals-against average, 9.04 saves a game).

Worth noting: Stanford, Iona's opening opponent Friday, also was the Gaels' opponent in their first-ever in NCAA tournament game in 2011. ... Olsen, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference offensive player of the year, has averaged 84.3 goals in her first three seasons. She also leads the team this season in assists, steals and blocks. ... Iona has scored in double figures in all but four games this season.

• No. 8 Pomona Pitzer (18-16)

Championship history: Fifth appearance, no titles.

Coach: Alex Rodriguez, eighth season with Sagehens.

Top scorers: Alyssa Woodward, So. (83 goals); Katy Schaefer, Fr. (66 goals); Sarah Westcott, So. (57 goals).

In goal: Sarah Tuggy, Sr. (9.30 goals-against average, 9.4 saves a game).

Worth noting: Sagehens, a Division III program, landed an automatic berth with a victory in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament final. ... Woodward has 162 goals in her first two seasons. ... Freshmen and sophomores have accounted for all but 10 of the team's goals this season. GK Tuggy is the only senior on the roster.