Stanford men’s water polo received an at-large bid into the NCAA Championship Sunday night, earning the No. 3 seed. The Cardinal will face Whittier College Thursday, Dec. 5 at 2:45 p.m. in a play-in game at Avery Aquatic Center.
The Cardinal, which finished the regular season 21-5 and reached the championship game of the MPSF Tournament, will go for its 11th NCAA title next weekend in its home pool. It is Stanford’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008, which was the last time the event was hosted at Avery Aquatic Center. The Cardinal reached the NCAA title game that year, falling 7-5 to USC.
Tickets for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Championship are available HERE. Play-in game tickets will be sold only at the Avery Aquatic Center door on Thursday and are $5 for adults and $3 for students/youth/seniors. The Saturday and Sunday all-session tickets do not include the play-in games.
The Cardinal’s game against Whittier College will be one of two play-in games Thursday, with the other, No. 4 UC San Diego against No. 5 St. Francis College Brooklyn, starting at 1 p.m.
Whittier College (20-12) earned its first NCAA Championship Tournament berth last Sunday, defeating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 10-9 in sudden death of the SCIAC Tournament final.
The Stanford-Whittier winner will face No. 2 seed Pacific at 2:45 p.m. in Saturday’s semifinal round, while the UCSD-SFC Brooklyn winner will face top seed and five-time defending NCAA Champion USC Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sunday’s Consolation (Third Place) Game is set for a 1 p.m. start with the NCAA Championship Game scheduled for 3 p.m.
Stanford earned its at-large bid thanks largely to a strong run over the season’s final month and a half in which the Cardinal went 11-1. The run started with an 8-6 victory over UCLA on Oct. 19 and continued into the MPSF Tournament as the Cardinal rolled up a 7-1 MPSF record to earn the draw’s No. 2 seed. Another key victory over the Bruins, this one in the MPSF Tournament semifinals, arguably guaranteed that the Cardinal would earn the right to battle for the national title in front of a home crowd.
Stanford won its 10 NCAA titles in 1976, 1978, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1993-94, and 2001-02.