San Jose, Calif. --- Looking for a win as the season comes to an end, the San José State men’s water polo team is on the road at the Santa Clara Broncos before the Spartans conclude their inaugural season at home against the Long Beach State 49ers.
“We’re been playing hard, we’re getting better every week and the scores reflect it,” said San José State head coach Bruce Watson. “This season has been a tremendous learning experience for the guys.”
Leading the season series 2-1, the Broncos (10-19, 2-4 WWPA) host the Spartans on Saturday, November 14, at 12:00 p.m. in the fourth meeting between the South Bay rivals.
San José State began its inaugural season with a 13-7 win over Santa Clara at the Aquatic Center. The Broncos then went on to beat the Spartans in the next two meetings with a 10-4 victory at the NorCal Invitational and a 16-10 win at UC Davis’ Aggie Roundup.
“We’ve identified a couple games we would like to win at the end of the season and realistically Santa Clara is one match we could win,” Watson said.
Leading the Spartans in scoring against the Broncos is freshman Justin Contreras and junior Vladimir Kazanskiy with four goals each. Sophomore goalkeeper Matej Matijevic has collected 31 saves against Santa Clara with a season high 19 saves in the season opener.
John Raineri is the Broncos leading scorer with 41 goals in 29 matches while goalkeeper Joe Maestri has made 199 saves in 21 starts.
Still looking for their first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation win, the Spartans take on the 49ers (10-13, 1-6 MPSF) at the Aquatic Center on Sunday, November 15, at 12 p.m. to wrap up the season.
“Long Beach State is a bigger and older team, the match will give us a gauge of where we are and how we’ve improved,” Watson said. “We’ve improved against all the Mountain Pacific teams as we’ve played them, especially the second time against California.”
Seeing action in all 25 of San José State’s matches, sophomore Igor Miljan leads the Spartans in scoring with 24 goals. Following Miljan in scoring is Contreras with 22 goals, freshman Alek Dendall with 22, junior Scott Reynolds with 17 and freshman Blake Grove with 16. Matijevic has made 227 saves this season with an average of 12.08 saves a match in 23 starts.
Leading Long Beach State in scoring is freshman Keegan Wicken with 33 goals in 21 matches. Goalkeeper Pavo Ljepopio has made 193 saves in the cage for the 49ers, averaging 8.94 saves a match.
Sunday’s match against the 49ers is free to students and the general public.
by Brian S. Stanley, SJSU athletics media relations student assistant