Bruins Picked to Finish Second in MPSF
WOODLAND, Calif. – For the first time since 2010, four teams earned a first-place vote in the MPSF Men's Water Polo Preseason Coaches' Poll, with USC narrowly prevailing in the 2021 edition. The Trojans collected 22 points and two votes at the top. USC returns all but one member of its 2020 NCAA Tournament roster, while adding back Olympians Hannes Daube and Marko Vavic. In all, USC has six All-Americans on-hand for 2021, including last season's top scorers Jacob Mercep and Jake Ehrhardt, along with three-time All-American goalkeeper Nic Porter.
Defending NCAA Champion UCLA also picked up a pair of first-place votes in the poll with 21 points to place second. The Bruins return every starter and their top-16 scorers, and regain the services of 2019 first team All-American Felix Brozyna-Vilim. Also back is 2020 NCAA Player of the Year, Nicolas Saveljic, who led the MPSF and was second in the NCAA in scoring with 37 goals in 16 games (2.3 goals per game). He was also the NCAA steals leader with 30 on the year. Three second team All-Americans return, which include Evan Rosenfeld (12 goals), Jake Cavano (22 goals), and goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi.
Stanford, which last season became the first school in MPSF men's water polo history to win three-straight conference titles, returns enough firepower to keep that unprecedented streak alive. The Cardinal earned 17 points and one first-place vote for third, and are led by an All-American trio of Tyler Abramson, AJ Rossman and Quinn Woodhead. Last season, Abramson led Stanford in goals (21) and points (26). Rossman produced a team-best seven multi-goal performances, and Woodhead chipped in with 14 goals.
California tallied 16 points and the remaining first-place vote, and returns every key member of last season's NCAA Semifinal team, including junior center Nikolaos Papanikolaou, the reigning MPSF Player of the Year and ACWPC First Team All-American. The Bears also return seniors Nikos Delagrammatikas and Jack Deely, each of whom were 2020 Second Team All-Americans.
Austin College (9) and Penn State Behrend (5) rounded out the poll, set to make a fourth and sixth appearance in the MPSF Championship Tournament, respectively. The Kangaroos return a pair of All-MPSF and All-American selections in Andrew Pope and Max Wade. The Lions, meanwhile, will be largely new in the water with nine incoming freshmen on the roster.
First sprint to the MPSF's 30th men's water polo season is September 4. The conference schedule will revert back to a single round-robin format, where the four California schools face each other once to determine MPSF Tournament seeding. Stanford hosts the MPSF Championship Tournament, November 19-21, with the champion receiving an NCAA Tournament automatic bid. UCLA is the site of the NCAA Tournament, December 4-5. Since its inaugural season of 1992, the MPSF has captured all 29 national championships in men's water polo.
2021 MPSF Coaches' Preseason Poll
|Team||Points (1st Place)||2020 Record||2020 MPSF Finish||2020 NCAA Finish|
|Penn State Behrend||5||0-3||6th||n/a|