The UC Irvine men's water polo program is known for creeping up on the competition, starting slowly and peaking in the postseason.
But with seven noteworthy seniors on the roster, Coach Marc Hunt's Anteaters appeared to be slightly more advanced as they dived into Saturday's season-opening action at the UCI Invitational.
"We're one of those build-and-develop teams," said Hunt, now in his sixth season at the helm of a program in which he twice earned All-American honors under legendary then-coach Ted Newland. "In the past, we usually get beat up pretty good in the summer time. When we get to the front end of the season, we might scare a few people here and there, but as the season progresses, we really improve. But I think we're a little bit ahead of the curve with this team."
This team was ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll, coming off a fifth-place finish in the rugged Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and a No. 5 final national ranking in 2009.