Cal, USC Share Top Spot in Coaches' Poll

Aug. 9, 2017

2017 MPSF Men's Water Polo Preseason Coaches' Poll-PDF

For the first time since 2011, the MPSF Men’s Water Polo Preseason Coaches’ Poll resulted in a tie on top. Defending NCAA Champion California and MPSF Champion USC, who battled each other for the national championship a year ago, totaled 13 points apiece in being dubbed the 2017 favorites in the conference. The Bears earned two first-place votes, while the Trojans earned another. Cal welcomes back a strong nucleus including first team All-Americans Luca Cupido (senior), Johnny Hooper (junior) and Odysseas Masmanidis (junior). Senior Conor Neumann is a returning honorable mention All-American while sophomore Safak Simsek also returns after scoring three goals in the national title game. Meanwhile for USC, in addition to Cutino Award-winning goalkeeper McQuin Baron, eight All-Americans return— seven of whom will be playing out their final seasons. USC’s top five scorers from 2016 are back in the water, with Blake Edwards, Matteo Morelli, Lachlan Edwards, Grant Stein and Marin Dasic each on the heels of at least 30 goals a year ago.

Stanford collected 11 points and the remaining two first-place votes to place third in the poll. The Cardinal welcomes back redshirt seniors Jackson Kimbell, Connor Stapleton, and goalkeeper Drew Holland, each of whom missed 2016 but were starters and All-Americans in 2015. Stanford also adds freshman Ben Hallock, who redshirted last season after competing with USA Water Polo in the 2016 Olympic Games.

UCLA finished fourth in the poll with nine points. Seniors Max Irving, Matt Farmer and Alex Roelse each return. Irving scored 30 goals and was named Second Team All-MPSF and Honorable Mention All-American last year. Roelse was Honorable Mention All-MPSF and All-American after scoring 29 goals, while Farmer added 21 goals and garnered Honorable Mention All-MPSF acclaim.

Penn State Behrend, competing in its second season in the MPSF Tournament, returns all but one player from last year’s roster and gains back Grant Garcia, the leading scorer and All-American in 2015. All-Conference rookie Isaak Hatopp also returns for the Lions after scoring 55 goals last season.

First sprint to the 2017 season is September 2, before the first of six total MPSF Conference games kicks-off September 8 when Stanford visits USC. The Cardinal serves as this year’s MPSF Championship Tournament host, November 17-19, where all five teams will compete for entry to the NCAA Tournament. USC hosts the NCAA Tournament December 2-3, following two national play-in games. Since its inaugural season in 1992, the MPSF has captured all 25 NCAA titles in men’s water polo.