Seeking to match the defensive production it had less than two weeks ago against #5-ranked Hawaii, #6-ranked San Jose State University begins its quest for a NCAA Tournament berth in the 2010 eight-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship.
The three-day tournament takes place at the Spieker Aquatics Complex on the UCLA campus, April 30 through May 2. Four matches, featuring seven of the top-10 teams nationally, are on the schedule each day starting at 10:00 a.m.
The Spartans' first-round opponent is #3-ranked California (23-6, 4-3 MPSF), Friday April 30, at 11:30 a.m. (PDT). The winner moves into the May 1 winners' bracket for a 3:00 p.m. (PDT) while the loser plays again at 11:30 a.m.
San Jose State (16-12, 2-5 MPSF) opened conference action this season at Cal with a 10-5 loss.
One objective in practice prior to the MPSF Championship is to find ways to keep the opposition from piling up a big number on the scoreboard. In just three of its seven conference contests this season, San Jose State kept its opponent under 10 goals.
WHAT THE SPARTANS HAVE TO SAY
"That's the defense we need to play all the time. It's just like in the Hawaii game, we need to have that type of defense," says goalkeeper Meagan Minson, who is fifth in the conference in goalkeeper saves at 8.56 per match. Hawaii's 6-5 win over the Spartans was one of San Jose State's best defensive efforts of the season.
"Against Cal, we have to 'knock down' a lot. They have some real good shooters. And, we have to put our shots away. Defense and putting away our shots is going to win the game.
"Everybody's been giving it their all and getting ready for this week. Hopefully, we'll have a real good weekend."
The Spartans rank eighth in the MPSF in goals allowed at 227. By contrast, Cal has allowed 149 goals, nearly three goals per game less than San Jose State. Offensively, the Golden Bears scored more times than any other conference member with 323 goals in 29 matches.
Cal's Emily Csikos is the team's leading scorer and ranks third in goals scored per game. Her 59 scores are three better than Adriana Vogt, San Jose State's top scorer. Vogt is fourth in the MPSF in scoring and is one of two Spartans among the top-10 MPSF scorers.
"We really need to focus on defense and we need to patient on offense," says Dani Curran, seventh in the MPSF in scoring with 42 goals for the Spartans.
"Most of our conference games, we let our opponents score 10 or more goals. If we can keep it down, the offense will take care of itself."
HIGH STAKES IN THE WATER
The winner of the MPSF Championship automatically qualifies for the NCAA Championship, May 14-16, at San Diego State University. Four other conference winners and three at-large selections will comprise the eight-team field for the NCAA Championship.
Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Association National Poll
April 28, 2010
6. San Jose State
8. Loyola Marymount
9. Arizona State
10. UC Irvine
12. San Diego State
13. Cal State Northridge
16. UC Santa Barbara
17. UC Davis
18. UC San Diego