Starting From The Top
STANFORD, Calif. - Defending NCAA champion Stanford will start this season where it finished last season - at the top.
Stanford joined USC as co-favorites in the College Water Polo Association (CWPA) national preseason poll. The Cardinal and Trojans both collected 97 points to top the poll, with No. 3 UCLA (92), No. 4 Pepperdine (83) and No. 5 California (80) rounding out the top five.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal has also been tabbed No. 1 in the MPSF preseason coaches' poll, accumulating 24 total points and four of the six first-place votes. USC checked in at No. 2 with 20 points and one first-place vote while UCLA finished third in the poll while receiving 19 votes and one first-place vote.
Stanford defeated host Pacific 13-8 to capture the 2019 NCAA championship, producing its 11th NCAA title in program history and first since 2002. The Cardinal, which has now won 12 national championships overall, finished 21-2 last season while winning its final six games.
Stanford also repeated as MPSF champions, bringing home its seventh conference crown following the second of two victories against rival California.
Stanford's NCAA title defense in 2020 will be missing a key piece, with two-time Peter J. Cutino Award winner Ben Hallock beginning his professional career and training with Team USA. In 2019, Hallock became the fifth man to win the award multiple times and joining four-time recipient Tony Azevedo (2001-04) as the second Cardinal player to accomplish the feat. A two-time ACWPC National Player of the Year (2018-19) and three-time ACWPC First-Team All-American (2017-19), Hallock led the Cardinal in scoring in each of the last three seasons and totaled 194 career goals.
The Cardinal will also miss senior All-American leaders Bennett Williams and Dylan Woodhead, who combined for 82 goals and contributed greatly to Stanford's conference and NCAA success over the last two seasons.
Tyler Abramson is Stanford's leading returning scorer, producing a team-high 98 points while trailing only Hallock with 63 goals in 2019. AJ Rossman (29) and Quinn Woodhead (27) are looking to build on 20-goal seasons while goalkeeper Andrew Chun was named an ACWPC Honorable Mention All-American after making 211 saves.
Stanford reported back to campus on Jan. 4 to begin the onboarding process for its upcoming varsity season.
In accordance with Santa Clara County's restrictions for collegiate sports, athletics activities that involve contact, that do not allow for social distancing, or that take place indoors, remain prohibited. Additionally, individuals are required to quarantine for 10 days upon returning from travel of over 150 miles from Santa Clara's borders. As a result, the men's water polo program initially plans to conduct modified outdoor training activities that comply with the current restrictions.
While Stanford Athletics will continue striving to create an opportunity for student-athletes to compete in their upcoming season, all decisions regarding training and competition will be based on the conditions and the guidance provided to us by public health officials and our university administration. Accordingly, all competition dates are subject to change.
For news and other potential schedule updates, please be sure to follow @StanfordMWP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.