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Women's Water Polo - Thu, Jan. 19, 2017

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – UC San Diego, which will be vying for its fifth straight conference banner -- and its sixth in the past seven seasons -- was the unanimous choice to again capture the league title, according to the 2017 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Women's Preseason Coaches' Poll, it was announced Thursday.

The Tritons, led by eighth-year head coach and four-time Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Division II Coach of the Year Brad Kreutzkamp, earned 25 points and five first-place votes as they return two All-Americans and five All-WWPA performers from a year ago.

Cal State East Bay garnered 20 points and one first-place vote to place second in the preseason poll, followed closely behind by Sonoma State in third place with 17 points.  Mercyhurst recorded 14 points while Cal State Monterey Bay tallied nine points and Gannon with five points to round out the preseason coaches' poll.

In 2016, Kreutzkamp, who shared ACWPC Coach of the Year honors with Mercyhurst's Curtis Robinette, led UC San Diego to a 28-11 overall record and its fourth consecutive WWPA title.  UCSD went on to finish sixth at the NCAA Championship in its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.  The Tritons were ranked ninth in the final Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Top 20 Poll of 2016 after spending all 18 weeks of last season in the CWPA rankings. 

UC San Diego had a NCAA Division II-best four student-athletes named to the ACWPC All-America squad last season, and two of them will return to the pool this season – seniors Alexis Wieseler and Lauren Boyer.  Wieseler led the WWPA in goals scored (84), points (118) and steals (72) last season and Boyer scored 57 goals, the fourth-most in the conference in 2016.

The Tritons enter the 2017 campaign ranked 11th in this week's Collegiate Water Polo Association Varsity Top 25 Poll and will kick off the regular season against WWPA-foe Sonoma State at Noon on Saturday at the UC Santa Barbara Winter Invite.

Cal State East Bay, pioneered by 15th-year head coach Lisa Cooper, will welcome seven seniors back from its 2016 squad that finished runner-up in the WWPA Championships for the third consecutive year, compiling a 16-11 overall record along the way.  Olivia Mackell and Rocio Fesembeck will lead the charge for the Pioneers, who enter the season receiving one vote in the 2017 Collegiate Water Polo Association Varsity Top 20 Preseason Poll.

Coming off of its highest WWPA finish in program history -- a third-place effort after going 13-14 last season -- Sonoma State returns five of its seven All-WWPA performers from a year ago, including senior Carleigh Robinson, who led the Seawolves with 49 goals last season, and sophomore Taylor Plorin, who made the second-most saves in the conference as a freshman with 254 and was third in goals against average with a 9.05 clip. Sonoma State will be led by first-year head coach Chelsea Hennan, who took over for Coralie Simmons, now the head women's water polo coach at the University of California in Berkeley.

Mercyhurst embarks on its second season as a member of the WWPA in 2017 after placing fourth in conference championships last spring.  15th-year head coach Curtis Robinette, who was named both the WWPA's Coach of the Year and the ACWPC Division II Co-Coach of the Year in 2016, guided the Lakers to a 9-12 record in their inaugural season in the league. Seniors Becky Insalaco and Jena Clinch, as well as sophomore Mackenzie Ryburn, will bring the veteran leadership to the pool for the Lakers this spring.

Finishing fifth in the WWPA Championships last April after posting a 6-25 overall record, Cal State Monterey Bay returns its top two goal scorers from a season ago in seniors Tatiana Veloso (59 goals in 2016) and Adrianna Craft (44 goals in 2016) along with six other letterwinners. The Otters welcome first-year head coach Emily Schmit to the pool deck this season after former head coach Gary Figueroa resigned from the position last July.

In its second season as a WWPA member, Gannon went 6-14 overall in 2016 and finished sixth in the conference championship last spring.  Junior Allison Cooney will again lead the charge for the Lady Knights as the two-time All-WWPA performer led Gannon with 47 goals and 15 drawn exclusions last season.  12 of the 14 players on Gannon's roster this season are returning from last season, paving the way for second-year head coach Sean Morphy.

The 2017 season kicks off this weekend as three teams will be in action – UC San Diego and Sonoma State will compete in the UCSB Winter Invite on Saturday and Sunday, and Cal State East Bay opens at Fresno Pacific, also on Saturday.

This year's WWPA Women's Championship Tournament returns to SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio on Apr. 28-30 for the second time in three years and will be hosted by Mercyhurst.  The winner of the WWPA Championships will earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament in May.


2017 WWPA Women's Preseason Coaches' Poll

Institution (Points, First Place Votes)

1.  UC San Diego (25, 5)

2.  Cal State East Bay (20, 1)

3.  Sonoma State (17)

4.  Mercyhurst (14)

5.  Cal State Monterey Bay (9)

6.  Gannon (5)

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