The Tritons went 1-3 in last weekend’s NorCal Water Polo Tournament, beating Air Force 12-9 and losing to UC Berkeley 9-6, Pepperdine 10-5 and Long Beach State 5-2.
In the two-day tournament, which ran from Oct. 21to Oct. 22, UCSD drew Air Force first.
Although Air Force has not been nationally ranked this year, it is still a very good team and came out swarming in the first quarter, staking a 2-0 lead when time had expired.
UCSD could have clammed up at this point. All season long the Tritons have come out and been able to stick it to people in the first quarter and establish themselves, but for the last couple of games at UCSB and Long Beach State, they have not been able to do this.
Falling behind early again could have disheartened the Tritons. However, UCSD did not let the early score affect it and stormed out in the second quarter attacking Air Force up and down the court, scoring four goals.
“”We did not let getting down early affect us, even though it is something we have been having problems with,”” said head coach Denny Harper.
Perhaps because of letting its guard down a little on the defensive end, UCSD allowed two goals. The second quarter ended tied, 4-4.
Not looking to let up the pressure, the Tritons decided to keep attacking the Air Force defense and came out for the third quarter in a feeding frenzy.
Air Force was not to be intimidated however, and in a rabid, dog fight-like, offensively charged third quarter, reminiscent of the Rams-Chiefs game, the Tritons scored six goals to Air Force’s five.
By the end of the fourth quarter UCSD had slogged its way to two more goals and the defense had held Air Force to a big fat bagel to make the final score 12-9, Tritons.
Jonathan Samuels scored four goals for UCSD and Vladimir Djapic and Justin Wylie added two goals apiece.
The tournament had 16 teams competing and because of space and time constraints, only two pools were available, UCSD was forced to paly its second game a scant three hours after their first.
Unluckily for the Tritons, its second game was against Cal, a team who even at full strength the Tritons would be hard pressed to handle.
The game started out slowly and evenly with UCSD hanging tough, and Cal went into the second quarter with only a 3-2 lead. It looked like a re-match of earlier in the season, but then Cal took over, outstripping UCSD to take a 6-2 halftime lead.
The Tritons fought valiantly in the second half, narrowing the gap to 7-5, but in the end Cal was too much for them and they fell, 9-6.
“”This was our best game of the weekend,”” Harper said. “”We were really happy with the way we played in this game, even though we did not win.””
Samuels posted three more goals for the Tritons.
The second day UCSD had a chance to place as high as fifth in the tournament, but an early morning loss to Pepperdine made it impossible for it to place any higher than seventh, and with its mid-day loss to Long Beach State, UCSD ended up placing eighth.
Despite its disappointing showing at the tournament, UCSD has something to look forward to, as in the next couple of weeks it will play five home games. This will give the Tritons time to regroup for a season-ending push toward championships.
This Sunday the Tritons match face Clairemont College at 12 p.m.