After being defeated in their first game of the week, women’s water polo opens up conference play with three consecutive wins.
The UCSD women’s water polo team had a busy but very successful week, taking three out of its last four games. The blue and gold started the week suffering a narrow 7–8 loss to No. 5 ranked UC Irvine in the final home game of the season before winning all other matches on the road. On Saturday, the Tritons completed a 10–4 win over Sonoma State and a 9–6 win over Cal State Monterey Bay at Seaside, California, finishing the week with a 15–13 overtime win against Cal State East Bay.
It was Senior Night at the Canyonview Aquatic Center on Thursday, as senior attackers Andie Nishimi and Jolene Guiliana played their final home games for UCSD. The Tritons took an early lead with a goal from sophomore attacker Lani Tittle. The game continued as a back-and-forth battle, resulting in five ties during the match. Guiliana later grabbed a goal and tied the teams at 5–5 in the third before freshman utility Kayla Fedler tied up the match once again at 6–6 at the end of the quarter. Although UCSD took the lead at the beginning of the fourth with a goal from junior attacker Laurel Kistler, back-to-back goals for UC Irvine gave them an 8–7 lead which they held to take the match.
“It’s tough when you play this well all year, and we just haven’t been getting the wins,” UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp said after the game. “Andie [Nishimi] is such a leader for this squad from the day she stepped in; she just bleeds Triton blue and gold. Jolene [Guiliana] always does something new and funny in each game that you don’t really expect. Tonight’s goal was a perfect example. I’m going to really be sorry to see them go.”
The Tritons’ luck changed over the remainder of the week as they played perfectly in their Western Water Polo Association away games. On Saturday, the Tritons started out with a 9–6 win over Cal State Monterey Bay at Seaside, California. They began strong, scoring on their first possession with a goal from Kistler. However, the Otters responded with three back-to-back goals and led 3–1 at the conclusion of the first quarter. The second quarter saw the teams record one score each, with junior center Lauren Finwall tallying for the Tritons before Cal State Monterey Bay responded. After the half, UCSD dominated the affair with junior goalie Courtney Miller keeping a scoreless third quarter. The Big Blue took a 5–4 lead with three goals from Tittle, sophomore center Lauren Boyer and junior attacker Julia Kirkland. In the final quarter, UCSD secured the win, netting four goals from Fedler, Guiliana and a hat-trick goal from Boyer.
In the second game of the day, against Sonoma State, UCSD dominated from the outset as it took an easy 3–0 lead in the first with goals from Tittle, Finwall and Kirkland. Yet another goal from Boyer extended the Triton lead to four before Sonoma State got on the score sheet twice in the second. The Tritons displayed even more attacking prowess in the third, with scores from Boyer and junior attacker Emma Sasson and sophomore attacker Rachel Emami, three scores unanswered by Sonoma State. The teams drew the final quarter with two scores each, giving the Tritons an impressive 10–4 win.
UCSD faced a much tougher test on Sunday when it was forced to overtime versus Cal State East Bay at Pioneer Pool. The Pioneers drew first blood with an early score, but the Tritons responded with three goals — two from Kirkland and one from Kistler. The Tritons developed a 7–3 lead in the second quarter, but their opponents fought back to cut the deficit to one at halftime, 7–8. In the fourth, Cal State East Bay took a 13–12 lead and looked to have secured the win, but with just nine seconds left, Kistler scored a clutch goal for the Tritons to force overtime. Miller shut out the Pioneers in extra time and goals from Guiliana, and Kistler brought UCSD the 15–13 victory. Kistler managed an impressive four goals, while Sasson and Kirkland each recorded hat tricks.
The team will return to action on Saturday, April 18, in the Harper Cup at San Diego State.