2011 Season in Review: Overcome Adversity
The Santa Clara men's water polo team finished out another successful season on the Mission Campus finishing with 18 wins. It was the third consecutive year that the team has collected 18-plus wins, a first in program history.
"We had some up and downs which is normal over the course of the year, but looking back on it, we had some really good wins," said Bronco head coach Keith Wilbur. "Making it back to semi-finals of WWPA's was a great accomplishment, and I thought the team had one of their best games of the season in the 3rd place game against LMU."
The Broncos finished fourth in the WWPA, nearly upsetting the No. 1 seeded Loyola Marmount Lions in the third place game. Santa Clara's biggest win of the year came on Oct. 9, at UC Davis. The Broncos downed the No. 10 Aggies 9-6 behind two goals from Theo Nasser, Marcus Akerland, and Brett Zylstra. Michael Wishart had a big game in the cage, racking up 13 saves.
This was all done despite multiple injuries throughout the year. Kyle Nadel was forced to red shirt and Casidhe McClone missed nearly two months to begin the season due to injury. Left-handed starter Jack Penner was injured for the season after seven games and two-meter defender Patrick Weiss was ruled out for the remainder of the year with only three weeks remaining.
"We got hit by injuries more than usual this year," said Wilbur. "They were also the types of injuries that are hard to prevent, a finger in the eye, a thumb bent the wrong way, and a couple of others. There were adjustment periods, but I thought our team responded well by playing up and not making excuses. Several guys got opportunities to play and they made the most of it."
The graduating class of Akerland, James Case, Zylstra, Daley Meistrell, and Wishart becomes the winningest in Santa Clara men's water polo history. The seniors won 75 games during their four years at Santa Clara.
"We had a great senior class this year, and given some of the adversity that we faced, especially with injuries, their leadership was key to overcoming those set backs and still having a good year," said Wilbur. "All five seniors had great work ethics and were dedicated to the team, and it makes sense that they have had four great years here."
History was made during the 2011 season. Wishart became the all-time blocks leader while Meistrell became the career leader in assists in Santa Clara history. Case finished his career in both the top ten in goals and assists. Akerland finished his career 10th all-time in assists.
Four Broncos earned all-conference honors. Case was named First-Team All-WWPA while Wishart and Meistrell were named to the second-team and honorable mention list respectively. Mark Davis was tabbed to the all-freshman team.
The Broncos will return multiple impact players for the 2012 campaign including redshirt sophomore Nasser, junior Weiss, and sophomore Tucker Carlson. Nasser had a breakout season in 2011, tying for a team high 41 goals and 53 earned ejections. Weiss helped to anchor the defense while registering 26 goals and Carlson teamed with Nasser at two meter to score 24 goals and draw 34 ejections.