The San Jose State University men's water polo team seeks a repeat outcome from its season opener a year ago when the Spartans travel to Santa Clara on Saturday, September 3, for their 2016 opening match. The non-conference contest starts at noon at the Sullivan Aquatic Center on the Santa Clara University campus.
In its first match since 1981, San Jose State parlayed a strong second half into a 13-7 victory over the Broncos before a standing room only home crowd. The teams would meet two more times within the next three weeks with Santa Clara emerging victorious.
Now in his second season as the Spartans head coach, Bruce Watson has a relatively new team with six returning letterwinners from the 2015 squad that finished with a 4-25 win-loss record, but was ninth out of 10 teams at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament. Alek Dendall was third on the squad with 23. Akos Balazs, an honorable mention All-America selection a year ago, chipped in with nine.
Sophomore Cole Williams is the only experienced major college goalkeeper returning. He posted a 13.35 goals against average in limited playing time.
Coach Watson also has a new assistant coach after Gabor Sarusi, last year's assistant, took over the San Jose State women's water polo head coaching duties. Beth Harberts, an All-America women's water polo player for the Spartans, replaced Sarusi as the assistant coach.
In the off-season, San Jose State moved from the MPSF to the Golden Coast Conference. The six-team conference includes UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Pacific, Pepperdine and San José State. In the preseason coaches' poll, the Spartans were picked sixth.
Santa Clara finished last season with a 13-20 record and a fifth-place finish at the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship tournament. The Broncos ended 2015 19th in the final Collegiate Water Polo Association national rankings.
Tickets for the San Jose State-Santa Clara match are $6.00 each and can be purchased at pool side.