No. 16 Navy Water Polo Begins Postseason Play at CWPA Southern Division Tournament
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The 16th-ranked United States Naval Academy water polo team begins its quest for its 13th CWPAâSouthern Division Tournament title when it begins Bracket Bâpool play against seventh-seeded Notre Dame College (Ohio)âon the campus of Princeton University at 8:15 pm on Friday. The Midshipmen enter the tournament as the second seed behind the host Tigers and are looking to regain the title after falling in the semifinals a year ago.
The Midshipmen, 18-6 overall and 5-3 in league play, will also play 11th-seeded Salem International on Saturday morning at 10:10 am. Should the Midshipmen win their bracket, they will play in the semifinals against the winner of the CâBracket, where No. 19 Bucknell University is the favorite. The semifinals will be played on Saturday at 5:30 pm, and the two semifinals winners will face off on Sunday at 2:00 pm.
Navy enters the tournament coming off two of its best performances of the season in last weekend's 16-7 win over Johns Hopkins and 15-8 victory over George Washington. Navy enters the tourmament having won five of its last six games with the lone setback being a 10-9 loss to No. 15 Princeton in overtime. With one win this weekend, it will ensure Navy a 19-victory season for the 30th straight season, or every year since Navy's resurrection of the program in 1982.
Leading Navy's offense is junior Paul Pedrotty, who paces the Mids in points (55)âand goals (46). Kyle Wertz has added 53 points (33 g, 20 a)âin just 13 games. Stevie Ray has 42 points (34 g, 8 a), while Conor Handley (39 points) and Arny Warren (33 points)âare over 30 points each. In all, Navy has seven players that have scored at least 20 points this year.
Defensively, Anthony Gutierrez has seen the majority of time in goal, stopping 141 shots against 143 goals allowed for a .496 save percentage. He needs just five saves to move into the career top 10 saves list at Navy. Patrick McCreary has 346 career saves to rank 10th, while Gutierrez has 341 career saves.
This will be the first meeting in school history against Notre Dame College, while Navy owns an 11-0 advantage against Salem International. Navy is 74-12 all-time against Bucknell and 52-23 against Princeton, who it could face in the finals on Sunday.
The Midshipmen have dominated the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA)âSouthern Division Championship since its inception in 1993. The Midshipmen own a 54-6 all-time mark in 18 appearances, winning 12 crowns. Navy owns a 10-5 record against Princeton during the tournament and is a combined 44-1 against the other teams in the field. However, that one in the loss column came in last year's event as Bucknell handed the Mids a 13-12 setback in the semifinal round, causing Navy to finish lower than second for the first time in school history as the Midshipmen placed third.
Navy has appeared in the CWPAâSouthern Division Tournament finals in 17 of the 18 previous seasons, winning crowns in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Navy has won four of the last six Southern Division Tournament titles.
The top four finishers in the tournament qualify for the CWPAâEastern Championship to be held Nov. 18-20 in Cambridge, Mass. The winner of the Eastern Tournament receives the automatic bid to the NCAAâTournament in early December.
Release courtesy Navy Athletic Communications