Shortly after winning the championship game of the Western Water Polo Association’s conference tournament, the California Baptist University men’s water polo team advanced to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s National Championship tournament.
“The sixth-ranked Lancers became the first program in school history to compete at the NCAA Championships on Thursday at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on the campus of USC (The University of Southern California),” according to CBU’s athletics website.
The CBU men’s water polo team played well all season against highly ranked opponents, but they performed especially well at the WWPA conference championship tournament.
“My expectation was for us to play our best water polo of the season. We had worked all year long to play in this tournament, so I expected us to be focused and ready to play our best,” said Kevin Rosa, head coach of the CBU men’s water polo team. “We played great for the entire WWPA championship tournament. Our defense played outstanding.”
After a breakout win to clinch the WWPA conference title, CBU’s men’s water polo team automatically advanced to the NCAA national championship tournament on the campus of USC.
“Going into NCAA was a bit nerve-racking, but it’s somewhere no CBU team has been before so it was very exciting to see what we could do,” said Gabriel Thorne, senior business major and captain of the CBU men’s water polo team. “My mindset was to simply play my game and represent CBU to the best of my ability.”
CBU played against the University of California, Los Angeles team in their first and only game at the NCAA championship.
UCLA would eventually go on to win the title, but CBU played well against a top-tier team and made CBU history even though they lost against the Bruins.
“We knew how good of a team UCLA was but that didn’t hold us back from wanting to win each game,” said Zachary Lowery, senior engineering major and captain of the CBU men’s water polo team. “Our mindset was to give them the best game we had from the first sprint to the last whistle.”
Despite losing to the UCLA Bruins 19-14, CBU men’s water polo made history as the first CBU team to compete in an NCAA Division I national championship.