2011 Championship Results | 2012 Championship Info
Excelling in water polo requires strength, stamina, physicality and teamwork. These players get the job done, racking up saves, ejections, goals and tallies in the win column for their teams. Hailing from the east coast, west cost and down under, here are the top players to watch for 2012.
Stanford utility player Alex Bowen had an amazing freshman season, leading the Cardinal with 11 hat tricks and 53 goals, including six to clinch the overtime win against California for Stanford’s first SoCal Tournament title since 2002. Now a sophomore, Bowen, a MPSF Newcomer of the Year and first-team All-American, will lead Stanford’s offensive force.
Forrest Watkins, a second-team All-American, consistently scored all last season with two eight-game scoring streaks. A 2M, he tallied 42 goals for the Cardinal, tying for second-most on the team. Watkins will be a mature leader on Stanford’s offense.
This season, USC has to move forward without record-setting goalkeeper and player of the year Joel Dennerly. Enter fellow Aussie and Australian Olympic team-member James Clark. The incoming freshman will face high expectations but has already proved his mettle in Australia and on the international scene.
USC’s Nikola Vavic, a left-handed driver, is more than just the coach’s son. He was USC’s top scorer as a freshman with 49 goals and scored 41 goals as a sophomore, making the All-Tournament and All-American teams both years. Vavic will be a key part of USC’s attempt at yet another national title.
Goran Tomasevic, a 6’6″ center from Croatia, is a physical force for Pacific. He finished last season with 15 multi-goal games including six hat tricks and a pair of four-goal performances, setting a high standard for the 11 incoming freshmen Tigers.
The East Coast’s challenge to the West Coast dynasty is young talent like Princeton attacker Drew Hoffenberg. A California native, Hoffenberg had one of the best seasons for a freshman in Princeton men’s water polo history, leading the team with 47 goals, 36 assists, 41 drawn ejections and 11 blocks.
UCLA team started out last season ranked No. 1 thanks to talent like utility player Josh Samuels. He enters his senior season with 108 goals, 90 steals, 40 blocks and 35 assists, along with a desire to see UCLA No. 1 at season’s end.
Griffin White, a senior attacker for UCLA, played all 29 matches last season and attempted 94 shots, converting at a 48 percent rate. A constant scoring threat, White is a key returnee for UCLA.
The Bears return a trio of 2011 All-Americans, including senior goalkeeper Justin Parsons. Last season, Parsons made 206 saves in 23 matches, including 26 saves in two and half matches versus UCLA, Long Beach State and UC-San Diego.
UC-Irvine’s leading scorer Mitch Wise, a junior driver, scored 70 goals in 2011, ranking second in the MPSF with an average of 2.41 goals per game. He has 100 goals in just two seasons with the Anteaters.