BRIDGEPORT, Pa. -- The road to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship will end for all but one team on the weekend before Thanksgiving as Harvard University will serve as host for the 40th Annual/2011 Men's Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship on November 18-20 at Blodgett Pool.
A meeting of the top four teams from both the Northern and Southern Division Championships, the CWPA Eastern Championship will pit St. Francis College (Northern Division Champion), the United States Naval Academy (Southern Division Champion), Brown University (Northern Division Runner-Up), Princeton University (Southern Division Runner-Up), Iona College (Northern Division Third Place), Bucknell University (Southern Division Third Place), the host Crimson (Northern Division Fourth Place) and Johns Hopkins University (Southern Division Fourth Place) for the league's two most cherished assets: the Eastern Championship plaque and an automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship Final Four on December 3-4 at Spieker Aquatics Center on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley.
For the first time in years, there is no clear favorite entering the championship as the defending champion Terriers of St. Francis, the Midshipmen of Navy, the Tigers of Princeton, the Gaels of Iona, the Bison of Bucknell, the Crimson of Harvard and the Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins all have a fighting chance of going from Boston to Berkeley.
Among the eight competing teams, five have previously captured the Eastern Championship as the quintet of St. Francis (2010, 2005), Navy (2008, 2007, 2006, 2003, 2000, 1990, 1988, 1987, 1986), Princeton (2009, 2004, 1992), Brown (1985, 1984, 1983, 1981) and Bucknell (1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1975) have combined for 23 of the previous 39 tournament titles dating back to 1972.
This year's tournament will follow the established model as competition will begin on Friday, November 18 as the Northern Division champion St. Francis Terrers face the No. 4 Southern Division qualifying Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins. Action continues at 1:00 p.m., (Princeton vs. Iona) 2:30 p.m. (Navy vs. Harvard) and 4:00 p.m. (Brown vs. Bucknell) to set the consolation and championship semifinals on Saturday, November 19.
Action on the first day will feature several high profile match-ups, but none more so than the final contest of the day which will pit the Bears of Brown, led by head coach Felix Mercado, against the Bison of Bucknell, led by first-year head coach and former Brown assistant coach John McBride.
Following the first date of competition, the league will host the Annual Collegiate Water Polo Association awards dinner at the Holiday Inn-Boston/Somerville. Following the dinner, the All-Northern and Southern Division Teams, Most Valuable Players and Coaches of the Year will be announced leading up to the induction of long-time Massachusetts Institute of Technology water polo coach and Assistant Athletic Director John Benedick into the organization's Hall of Fame.
Limited seats for the Hall of Fame banquet and ceremony are still available by contacting the league office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to the start of competition on Saturday, November 19, the league will host a clinic for local athletes with two-time Olympian and founder of Kap7, the official ball of the CWPA and the NCAA, Brad Schumacher in Blodgett Pool. Registration will occur at 9:30 a.m. with the clinic running from 10:00 a.m.-to-12:15 p.m. Athletes interested in attending the clinic are asked to contact the CWPA office at email@example.com.
Intercollegiate action resumes at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. as the fallen from Friday's competition battle it out to decide the match-ups for the fifth and seventh place games on Sunday, November 20. Following the two consolation semifinals, the championship semifinals will occur with the Winner of Game 1 meeting the Winner of Game 2 (4:30 p.m.) and the Winner of Game 3 facing the Winner of Game 4 (6:00 p.m.).
Sunday brings the final contests as seventh (10:00 a.m.), fifth (11:30 a.m.) and third (1:00 p.m.) place will be decided prior to the championship tilt at 2:30 p.m.
A complete schedule for the Eastern Championship, including directions to Blodgett Pool and available hotel accomodations at the official host hotel the Holiday Inn-Boston Somerville, is available by CLICKING HERE.
For fans that will be in the Boston area, ticket prices for the tournament are:
- General Admission: $25 Weekend Pass, $13 Day Pass
- Harvard Students & Staff: $12 Weekend Pass, $5 Day Pass
In addition, for fans unable to attend the championship, the CWPA will once again offer live-streaming of all 12-games through the league's partnership with Stretch Internet. The cost for a weekend pass to watch the entire tournament is $25, while individual contests can be purchased at a cost $10/game. Fans can access the streaming page directly by CLICKING HERE, or by visiting the Multimedia Link on the front page of the CWPA website.