Tritons Finish Eighth Place at NCAAs

UCSD goes 0–3 at nationals, loses to UCLA, UC Irvine, Indiana to conclude season.

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The No. 12 UCSD women’s water polo team traveled to Los Angeles this past weekend to take part in  the NCAA Championship but failed to keep up with the rest of the pack. Finishing in eighth place, the Tritons dropped games to UCLA, UC Irvine and Indiana University to conclude its 2014 campaign with a 27–13 overall record.

UCSD was quickly eliminated from national title contention after losing 12–8 against No. 2 powerhouse UCLA in the first round of finals play.

While the Bruins jumped to a quick lead with a pair of goals, the Tritons finished the opening quarter with a close 2–1 score as sophomore attacker Julia Kirkland responded, placing UCSD on the scoreboard.

In spite of the first quarter’s tight result, UCLA broke out in the second frame. The Bruins netted three goals while shutting the Tritons out, ending the half with a 5–1 score.

“In order to beat that type of team, we have to come out playing relaxed,” senior utility Sarah Lizotte told the UCSD Athletics Department. “I’m not sure we did that early, but we did coming out of halftime, and the early part of the third quarter was probably our best stretch.”

The Tritons entered the third quarter with two quick goals from sophomore 2MD Alexis Wieseler and junior attacker Jolene Guiliana to cut the deficit to two at a 5–3 score. However, UCLA fired back with three unanswered goals to extend the lead to 8–3 at the end of the third quarter. A high-scoring final frame did little for the Tritons, who ultimately fell 12–8.

Lizotte and Wieseler both finished with a hat trick each.

“We wanted to make sure we gave everything we could and make them work for anything they got — I think we did that,” UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp said. “We didn’t play mistake-free, but we never quit. I was definitely happy about the effort out there today.”

After the Tritons were relegated to the tournament’s losing bracket, UCSD faced UC Irvine on Saturday. Though the Tritons took an early advantage from a Wieseler goal, the No. 6 Anteaters would score three goals in response and retain the lead for the rest of the match.

UCSD entered the fourth quarter trailing by only two at 11–9 but UC Irvine broke out in the final period, scoring six goals to win 17–11. Wieseler finished the match with five goals, while Lizotte and Guiliana each had a pair of goals.

In their final game of the tournament and of the season, the Tritons faced Indiana University for seventh place, but ultimately fell in a hard-luck 9–8 loss.

The first quarter had both squads totaling seven goals as the Tritons trailed 4–3 entering the second. Indiana University put in two more goals in the second period, while the Tritons scored one. Down by two entering the second half, the Tritons outscored the Hoosiers 4–3 in the final two quarters but failed to get that one extra goal needed to knot the game up.

With the three losses, the eighth-place Tritons failed to improve from last year’s sixth place finish. Wieseler led UCSD with 10 goals throughout the tournament. Four graduating seniors — center Melissa Bartow, 2MD Allison Delgado, utility Leah Gonzales and Lizotte — concluded their collegiate careers.

Lizotte, who scored a total of eight goals, finishes with 26 goals scored in the NCAA Championships, only four goals short of the NCAA record of 30 set by Stanford University’s Lauren Silver. She also leaves as the all-time leader in goals and assists for UCSD.

“It’s very sentimental when you have to play the last game of the year,” Kreutzkamp said. “We had a good senior class and it was tough to lose a tight game, [but] we have tons of talent returning.”