GW’s Atakan Destici hit on the goal of the weekend. Photo Courtesy: George Washington Athletics
Late last night, the bracket for the 2018 NCAA Men’s Tournament was posted at NCAA.com and it contained the most contentious sliver of information regarding this year’s national championship: which of the nation’s top four teams will NOT qualify for NCAA. Stanford, with a 12-10 win in the MPSF title match, claimed the conference’s automatic NCAA bid. USC and UCLA—both of whom lost on Saturday in the MPSF semifinals—claimed at-large bids.
That meant that University of California at Berkeley—on the wrong end of the score against the Cardinal—was the odd Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) team out.
Golden Coast Conference’s automatic bid, beating GCC favorite Pacific 10-6 behind four goals from Austin Stewart. The 49ers are now going to NCAAs for the first time since 1991.
Joining the underdog parade were two teams from the East. Capping a late-season run that saw them win five straight matches, the Tigers of Princeton took down top-seeded Harvard 12-10 in the Northeast Water Polo Conference final to claim a play-in berth in NCAAs. Next Saturday at 11 a.m. (all times EST) Head Coach Dustin Litvak’s squad will host George Washington in the DeNunzio Pool; on Sunday in the Bronx the Colonials shocked Bucknell in the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference title tilt. Atakan Destici scored with two seconds left to push the match into overtime, where Andrew Mavis sealed a 12-11 win with a late goal.
In the play-in game on the other coast, Long Beach State will look to extend their six-match winning streak to seven, hosting a meeting on Saturday at 10 a.m against Pomona-Pitzer, a winner over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by a score of 11-4.
Once these two play-in games are decided at the sites of the higher-ranked teams, championship play shifts to Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center, where MPSF stalwart UCLA will be waiting to meet the Princeton vs. George Washington winner at 5:45 p.m. UC San Diego, an 11-10 winner over UC Davis in the Western Water Polo Association final thanks to four scores from Kacper Langiewicz, will face the LBS vs. Pomona-Pitzer winner at 4 p.m.
Let’s face it: we’re ALL gonna miss seeing this guy in Cal colors (even you Cardinals)! Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne