Water Polo

No. 23 Aztec Water Polo Set for GCC Championship

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SAN DIEGO – The No. 23-ranked and 4-seeded San Diego State water polo team is set to compete in the 2024 Golden Coast Conference (GCC) championship tournament from Friday to Sunday, April 26-28 at Sullivan Aquatic Center in Santa Clara, Calif. The Aztecs will face 5-seed California Baptist at 2 p.m. PT on Friday afternoon, in a quarterfinal matchup.
This Week
GCC Championship – Sullivan Aquatic Center, Santa Clara, Calif.
Friday, April 26
Game 1: No. 3 Seed (Pacific) vs. No. 6 Seed (Azusa Pacific) - 10 a.m. PT
Game 2: No. 2 Seed (Fresno State) vs. No. 7 Seed (Santa Clara) - Noon PT
Game 3: No. 4 Seed (San Diego State) vs. No. 5 Seed (California Baptist) - 2 p.m. PT
Game 4: No. 1 Seed (LMU) vs. No. 8 Seed (Concordia) - 4 p.m. PT
Saturday, April 27
Game 5: 7th Place – Two lowest seeded losing teams from day 1 - 10 a.m. PT
Game 6: 5th Place - Two highest seeded losing teams from day 1 - Noon PT
Game 7: Semifinal #1 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 2 p.m. PT
Game 8: Semifinal #2 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 4 p.m. PT
Sunday, April 28
Game 9: 3rd Place - Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 - 11 a.m. PT
Game 10: Championship - Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 - 1 p.m. PT
Links for live stats and live streaming video for the entire GCC Tournament can be found on the Tournament Central page at https://gccwaterpolo.com/tournaments/?id=29.
About the Aztecs
• No. 23-ranked San Diego State finished the regular season 15-14, 4-3 in Golden Coast Conference action and is the 4-seed in this weekend's GCC Tournament at Sullivan Aquatic Center on the campus of Santa Clara University.
• With a win in its quarterfinal game against California Baptist, San Diego State will secure its first winning season since the 2017 squad posted an 18-14 mark.
• The Aztecs, who have never been lower than the 4-seed, are 11-11 in their GCC Tournament appearances and have reached the championship game five times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2021) winning the crown in 2016.
• San Diego State is the 4-seed for the third time in its 11 years in the GCC and third time in the last three seasons.  As the 4-seed SDSU has a 2-4 record.
• SDSU is 4-0 in its quarterfinal games at the GCC Tournament and has won those games by an average score of 10-7.
• San Diego State finished outside the top three places on only two occasions, in 2022 & 2023, in its 11 times competing in the GCC Tournament. San Diego State won the event in 2016, was second in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021, and finished third in 2018 and 2019.
• The winner of the SDSU/CBU contest advances to the second semifinal game on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT and will play the winner of the game between 1-seed LMU and 8-seed Concordia. The loser of the Aztecs/Lancers game will play in either the fifth or seventh place game on Saturday at either 10 a.m. or noon PT, respectively.
• Sophomore attacker Claudia Valdes is a first team All-GCC performer. A native of Madrid, Spain, Valdes' 70 goals lead San Diego State and rank third in the conference. She is the first Aztec to score at least 70 goals in a season since Amber Pezzolla finished the 2013 campaign with 71. In addition to her goal scoring prowess, the attacker tops the team in points (106), steals (35), blocks (16) and shots (134), and is second in assists (36) and shot percentage (.522). Among GCC performers, she leads the league in blocks, ranks second in points, sixth in steals and seventh in assists. Valdes, a sophomore, has 15 hat tricks in 29 games, including four in the team's seven conference games, and has scored multiple goals in 22 contests. Valdes garnered first-team distinction for the first time in her college career and represents SDSU with its 17th first team honor in its 11 years in the league.
• Freshman center Mimi Stoupas earned honorable mention All-GCC and GCC All-Freshman Team honors. Stoupas, who has appeared in 29 games, ranks second on the squad with 34 goals on 59 shots. She leads the team in shot percentage (.542) as well as ejections drawn (43). In addition, the Melbourne, Australia native, has 10 steals and has assisted on two goals. She has scored multiple goals in 10 games, including four hat tricks, and has had 12 contests with multiple ejections drawn, including a season-best five vs. No. 22 CSUN. Stoupas is the ninth Aztec in as many years to be included on the conference's all-freshman team.
• Sophomore attacker Claudia Valdes earned inclusion on the 2024 John R. Cutino Award Watch List three weeks ago. The Cutino Award recognizes the best collegiate water polo player in the nation and Valdes is the first Aztec to receive recognition from the Award since Holly Hertzell was one of four finalists for honor in 2004.
• In the 30 seasons of Aztec water polo, SDSU has a 593-405 record (.594).
• Completing its 11th season as a member of the Golden Coast Conference, San Diego State has an overall record of 57-15 (.792) in league contests, and has won four regular season titles and one conference tournament title.
• Sophomore Claudia Valdes with a hat trick versus UC San Diego (April 21), in each team's regular-season finale, became the first Aztec to score at least 70 goals in a season since Amber Pezzolla had 71 in 2013 and Valdes is one tally from entering the program's top 10 in single season goals.
• Junior Rose Kanemy leads the team with 47 assists and ranks No. 2 in shots (71), points (74) and is tied for the lead in sprint wins (18). The native of Montreal, Canada, has scored 24 times to go along with 14 steals and eight blocks. Kanemy is No. 3 in the GCC in assists and No. 7 in sprint win percentage (.486). She has 16 multi-assists games this year, including a game high four vs. Biola (3/2) & UC San Diego (4/21).
• Sophomore Sydney Gish has scored 25 goals and assisted on 16 more for a total of 41 points. Her goals and points rank third on the team. On 58 shots she has a .431 shot percentage which is also the third best among the Aztecs. Her 27 ejections drawn are second on the team and 17 steals rank sixth. Gish has seven multi-goal games, which includes a six-strike game in the season opener, the most goals for an Aztec since Emily Bennett hammered the back of the net as many times vs. Bucknell on March 11, 2018.
• Goalie Tiaare Ahovelo has spent more than twice the minutes in the cage as any other Aztecs. In 575:45, Ahovelo has seen 230 goals go in the net, made 163 saves (.415 save percentage), has seven assists, 24 steals and an 8-12 record.
About the Opposition in the Quarterfinal and Semifinal Rounds
Versus California Baptist
• The Aztecs are 25-2 all-time against California Baptist, which includes a 10-2 mark in neutral site contests.
• San Diego State has won its last 23 games against CBU and has not lost to the Lancers since April 13, 2001.
• The Aztecs and California Baptist have met once in the GCC Tournament, in the 2018 quarterfinal round. The game resulted in a 7-6 victory for the 3-seed Aztecs against 6-seed CBU.
• In 2024, San Diego State is 2-0 against California Baptist after a 13-12 non-conference decision on Feb. 4 at the Triton Invitational and a 13-10 victory at CBU on April 20. First-team All-GCC performer Claudia Valdes has five goals against the Lancers and three assists in two games this season. Honorable mention All-GCC and GCC All-Freshman Team member Mimi Stoupas has four goals and Kendall Houck scored three goals against CBU this season.  Ava Ratajczak is 2-0 against California Baptist and has 21 saves in her two victories.
Versus Loyola Marymount (No. 6 ranked & 1-seed)
• The Aztecs are 18-25 all-time against Loyola Marymount, which includes a 10-17 mark in neutral site contests.
• San Diego State has not won its last seven games against the Lions and has not beaten LMU since March 20, 2021.
• The Aztecs and Loyola Marymount have met six in the GCC Tournament with the Lions holding a 5-1 lead in the event. The pair have met three times in the semifinal round of the GCC Tournament with the Aztecs taking a 9-4 victory in 2016 on its way to that year's tournament title. In 2018 & 2019 the Lions got the better of SDSU with 10-7 and 10-5 victories, respectively.
• In 2024, San Diego State fell at Loyola Marymount in a 12-10 decision on April 6 and those 10 goals allowed were the second most a GCC team has scored against the Lions this year. First-team All-GCC performer Claudia Valdes scored four times against the Lions while freshman Makena Macedo had a hat trick in the game. Tiaare Ahovelo was in goal for the whole game and had five saves.
Versus Concordia (8-seed)
• The Aztecs are 13-0 all-time against Concordia, which includes a 4-0 mark in neutral site contests.
• The Aztecs and Golden Eagles have met once in the GCC Tournament a 15-8 SDSU victory in the quarterfinals of the 2023 tournament. San Diego State had three hat tricks in the game, including a pair from current senior Kendall Houck and sophomore Claudia Valdes. Mandy Lagerlof was in the net for 24 minutes, picked up the victory and stopped six shots.
• In 2024, San Diego State defeated CUI 12-8 on April 12. Rose Kanemy recorded a hat trick while Claudia Valdes and Danni Croteau scored twice each. Tiaare Ahovelo played the first half, made three saves, and picked up the victory.