By Lindsey Boyd ( @lindsboyd3):
No. 11 men’s water polo (13-15, 1-4 GCC) had its most successful season since its program’s re-establishment in 2014. The Spartans not only won for the first time against a nationally ranked opponent, No. 19 Pomona-Pitzer, they totalled five wins against ranked teams.
The 2015-2016 team posted a 4-25 overall record, but with solid new additions like freshman attacker Jacob Mercep and freshman center Luka Cupic, it improved its win/loss record to almost 50 percent. Returning players like sophomore drivers Ashley Castle, Ben Hauschild, sophomore 2-Meter Finn Pardon and sophomore goalie TJ Palmer also stood out for SJSU.
Not to mention, the Spartans started the season unranked and ended one spot shy of being a top 10 Division I team.
The Spartans finished the season on a seven-game losing streak, an improvement from their 10-game losing streak last year. The team almost had an eight game win streak in October if it wasn’t for it’s biggest 20-6 loss against No. 3 UC Berkeley.
“We are close to everyone in the conference,” head coach Bruce Watson said before the conference tournament. “We can play with everybody.”
The team entered the conference tournament as a fifth seed but lost 18-14 in double overtime to No. 8 UC Santa Barbara to finish last in the Golden Coast Conference.
Mercep had 93 goals for the season, the highest goal scoring player in the entire Golden Coast Conference. His total was almost twice the amount of goals scored by Ben Hallock, lead scorer for No. 1 Stanford, who totalled 54 goals.
Mercep was also named GCC Newcomer of the Year and second-team GCC All-Conference player. Center Luka Cupic joined him in being named GCC all-freshman team. Palmer was given honorable mention GCC all-conference.