Anteaters crush Tritons from the first minutes of play to take decisive 17-8 victory.
The No. 14 UCSD men’s water polo team traveled north to Orange County this past Thursday for a non-conference matchup against No. 8 UC Irvine at the Anteater Aquatics Complex. The Tritons had a slow start and ultimately fell in a devastating 17–8 decision. They now hold a losing 6–7 record, while the Anteaters improve to 8–2 on the season.
UC Irvine found the back of the cage five times to open the first quarter before the Tritons could even manage a goal of their own. UCSD finally broke through with 47 seconds left in the period when senior two-meter Tyler Mancuso rifled a shot home. Anteaters’ junior driver Antoine Lena responded with a power play in the final seven seconds of the frame to pull his team to an already determining 6–1 lead.
“In the second period, we settled in and started playing with them,” UCSD Head Coach Denny Harper told the UCSD Athletics Department.
The Tritons hung on in the second period and matched the Anteaters’ four goals with four of their own. Junior driver Nick Alexander scored twice, and junior utility Nassim Hmeidan and sophomore driver Cole Martinez each put one goal away to end the quarter at a 10–5 deficit.
However, the Tritons lost their grip again in the third frame. The team fell to an insurmountable nine-point deficit as the Anteaters fired five more shots home and held UCSD to just one. UC Irvine scored two more in the final frame to increase its lead to 10. Despite one last goal from Alexander with 1:38 remaining on the clock, the Tritons could not make up for lost time and dropped a hard 17–8 loss.
Lovre Milos, Kyle Trush and Matt Skinner each recorded hat tricks for the Anteaters. UC Irvine edged UCSD in saves as well, with junior goalkeeper Dylan Peterson recording 11 saves and Byron Rivers recording five. UCSD’s redshirt goalkeeper Jack Turner recorded eight of the Tritons’ 10 saves, and freshman relief goalie Sam Thompson posted the remaining two.
However, Coach Harper remains optimistic: “Irvine is a good, solid top-10 team,” he said. “I’m pleased that we played a lot of people tonight. We’re still a work in progress.”
The Tritons, the second-ranked team in the Western Water Polo Association behind UC Davis, will be on the road again this Thursday against WWPA foe California Baptist University, which is currently riding a five-game winning streak and is third in the WWPA, at Riverside at 7 p.m.