Trojans clinch MPSF Championship, No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament
The men’s water polo team won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship with an 8-7 sudden-death victory over No. 4 seeded Stanford on Sunday, netting the Trojans an automatic bid into the upcoming four-team NCAA tournament.
The marathon win spanned four quarters, two overtime periods, and one sudden death period before freshman Nikola Vavic scored with 2:03 remaining in the second portion of sudden death to clinch the Trojans’ seventh MPSF tournament title.
Peter Kurzeka and Matt Burton each scored two goals in the championship match, while goalie Joel Dennerley paced the men of Troy with 12 saves.
The win avenges a 5-3 loss that the Trojans suffered to the Cardinal during the regular season. Both games took place at the Avery Aquatic Center in Palo Alto, Stanford’s home pool.
Now, the Trojans (26-2) will try to defend their back-to-back national titles as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, jumping up in the rankings after former No. 1 California’s loss to Stanford in the MPSF semifinals. The Trojans now hold an 11-match winning streak since their 2-match skid in October.
They will face No. 4 seeded St. Francis (NY) in the first round, who hold a 24-3 record as the winners of the Eastern Championship. On the other side of the bracket, California (23-3) will face No. 3 seeded Loyola Marymount (19-8), champions of the Western Water Polo Association.
The first round matchups will take place on December 4, while the championship and consolation game will follow on December 5. All matches will take place at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, CA.