After taking first place at the Pacific Coast Division’s regional tournament last weekend, the undefeated Cal Poly men’s club water polo team is going for gold this season at the Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship.
At the regional tournament hosted at Long Beach State, the Cal Poly A-team completed their sweep of the Pacific Coast Division, bringing their record to 11-0. As the team with the most national club championship titles, the Mustangs are ranked as the No. 1 college club team in the country.
The team has acquired 11 national championship titles since its beginning in 1995. After placing third in last year’s tournament, the No. 3 seeded Mustangs are looking for their first national championship title since 2007.
The team’s record is possible due to its strong defensive play, which has shut down the Pacific Coast Division. Cal Poly has outscored their opponents by at least four goals and held competitors under 10 points in every game this season.
“We have no shortage of talent, we have a lot of guys that could have gone to play Division I water polo,” team captain Will Peterson said.
The Mustangs were placed in the last seed of the 16 teams who also received bids. In the first round, the Mustangs defeated the three-time-defending National Champions Lindenwood University 8-4, serving the Lions their first loss in three years. Cal Poly earned the bronze medal after crushing USC 13-7.
The Cal Poly A-team started regionals out hot on the morning of Saturday, Oct 27, smoking out the 5th-seeded Long Beach State 12-3.
“We have incredible depth, we can trade in all six for all six and still have an incredible six guys out there,” head coach Dan Crozier said.
Sunday morning, Cal Poly took on the second seeded UCLA A-team for the regional title. Crozier said the game brought a tougher challenge than the first, but the Mustangs’ desire to win took over.
“We were kind of nervous, but we settled into our groove, and we ended up just really showing our stuff again, and we kind of took it away again,” Crozier said.
The Mustangs earned the Pacific Coast Division first place title and a bid to the national championship after defeating UCLA 10-6. It was Cal Poly’s highest-scoring game of the tournament.
“Whenever they scored we returned with another goal,” senior goalie Nano Schmidt said. “Everyone was scoring, everyone wanted it.”
Senior center Cole Carroll said the team’s speed will make them “unstoppable.” Compared to previous seasons, Carroll said he is looking forward to playing with a team that works so well in the pool together.
“We go into every game with the same mentality,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to play hard [and] start quick. We’ve got to run-up the score and shut them down.”
The Mustangs need to win four straight games to take home the club’s first national title in 11 years. Last year was the Mustangs’ first journey to the national championship in eight years, resulting in a tough 9-6 loss to Texas in the semi-finals, but the Mustangs were still able to take third place with a 15-8 win over USC. Schmidt said he is confident in the strength and ability of the team to bring home the gold.
“This is our year, we’re 11-0, we’ve never done better in the past 11 years, and we’re gonna bring out the fire,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to take it this year, absolutely.”
The Cal Poly team will start its national championship run against the University of Alabama on Friday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m.