No. 16 Navy Heads West to NorCal Invitational
ANNAPOLIS, Md. --
The 16th-ranked Navy water polo team will face its stiffest action
of the season this weekend as it heads to Berkeley, Calif., for the
NorCal Invite, beginning on Saturday. Navy will play third-ranked
and two-time defending NCAA Champion University of Southern
California (USC) at 10:40 am (PT) on Saturday.
The Mids are pooled on the opposite side with fifth-ranked University of California-Irvine and 18th-ranked Santa Clara University. The Mids’ second game will come against one of those two teams at either 4:00 pm or 5:20 pm, depending on the outcome of Navy’s game with USC.
"This weekend poses a great challenge to our team and we will really need to step up our game to be successful," said Navy head coach Mike Schofield, who has guided the Mids to a 12-1 start so far this season. "This will be the best competition we face all season and we are hoping to go out there and compete with the nation’s best teams."
The tournament features the nation’s top 11 ranked teams and of the top 20 nationally, 15 of them will be competing at the NorCal Invite. The lone unranked team in the field is Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, which is ranked No. 2 in the Division III poll.
Leading the Navy offensive attack is junior Conor Handley (Naperville, Ill.) and senior Luke Baldwin (La Grange Park, Ill.). Handley paces the squad with 31 points (20 g, 11 a), while Baldwin has 29 points (20 g, 9 a). Sophomore Archie Warren (Baltimore, Md.) is the other Navy player to have scored at least 20 points, as he has contributed eight goals and 12 assists. Nine other players already have scored at least 10 points on the season.
Defensively, sophomore Anthony Gutierrez (Long Beach, Calif.) has seen most of the time in goal, appearing in 12 of the 13 games. He has stopped 63 shots while allowing 55 goals for a save percentage of .534. Chase Hansen (Newburg, Ore.) may also see time this weekend, as he has fought injury to play in four games with six saves and three goals allowed (.667).
Of Navy’s four teams in its bracket, Navy has only defeated UC-Irvine and Santa Clara. The Mids are 0-11 against USC all-time, 1-6 against UC-Irvine and are 6-1 against Santa Clara.
Navy last faced USC in the 2008
NCAA Championship semifinals, falling to the Trojans. 14-9.
The Mids will open league play at home next weekend as it hosts Bucknell at noon and Princeton at 8:00 pm in Macdonough Hall. The Bucknell contest will be streamed live online at www.NavySports.com