Stanford hosting NCAA men's water polo championships

Photo by Don Feria/

The third-ranked and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion Stanford men's water polo team, begins play in the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m. at Avery Aquatic Center.

The Cardinal is playing host to this year's event, which also features at-large selections USC and UCLA, Western Water Polo Association winner UC San Diego, Golden Coast Conference champion Long Beach State, Northeast Water Polo Conference winner Princeton, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Pomona-Pitzer, and Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference champion George Washington.

Calder Hilde-Jones/UCSD Athletics

Michael Swart/Princeton Athletics
Former Gunn star Calder Hilde-Jones, who was born at Stanford Hospital, returns with UC San Diego. He scored a goal in the Tritons' 11-10 victory over UC Davis in the WWPA title match.

Hilde-Jones appeared in all 24 games with the Tritons (19-5), scoring 23 goals and drawing 23 exclusions, second on the team.

Sacred Heart Prep graduate Alex Nemeth is also on the team as a redshirt.

Former Sacred Heart Prep standout Michael Swart and Menlo School alum Christopher Xi helped Princeton beat Harvard, 12-10, in the NWPCA championship. The Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak against Harvard, including two one-goal losses this season.

Four SHP grads play at Harvard: Grant Harvey, Alex Tsotadze, Michael Sonsoni and Jackson Enright. Menlo alum Ben Wagner also plays for Harvard, coached by Ted Minnis, who has deep ties to the local community and has coached at Castilleja and Stanford Water Polo Club.

Swart, a second team all-NWPCA tournament pick, has scored 29 goals for Princeton. Xi has 12 goals.

The Tigers (19-10) host George Washington on Saturday in a NCAA play-in game.

Gunn grad Jack Mallory has three goals, four assists and 10 steals for the Sagehens this season. They beat Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 11-4, in the SCIAC championship game.

Menlo-Atherton grad Noah Smith split time in the goal for the Stags, recording a 6-4 record with a .513 save percentage. SHP alum CJ Box scored 14 goals.

SHP grad Zach Pendolino has seven goals, three assists and 10 steals for George Washington (22-6), which beat Bucknell in overtime to win the MAWPC tournament title.

Palo Alto alum Jared Stanley and Menlo School grad Scott Little play for the Bison.

Long Beach State will face Pomona-Pitzer in an NCAA opening-round game on Saturday in Long Beach. The winner of that game will move on to face UC San Diego at Avery Aquatic Center Thursday, Nov. 29. Stanford will face the winner of the Nov. 29 contest in the semifinal round on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m.

Stanford has faced Long Beach State this season already, earning a 13-7 win at Avery Aquatic Center on Oct. 11. The Cardinal has not faced UC San Diego or Pomona-Pitzer this season.

Stanford is making its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Cardinal last appeared in the tournament in 2014, finishing third. Stanford has won the NCAA championship 10 times in program history, last capturing the title in 2002. This marks the eighth NCAA appearance for Stanford coach John Vargas.

The Cardinal enters the NCAA championships 20-2 overall, matching its best record since 2009. It is the 10th 20-win season under Vargas. Stanford won its sixth MPSF Championship last weekend with a 12-10 victory over California.

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