No.11 UCSD hosted crosstown rival No.15 San Diego State in the fight for the Harper Cup on Friday evening. The match could not be decided at the end of regulation, eventually going to a second sudden-death overtime, where junior center Lauren Boyer rose to the occasion and sealed the victory for UCSD, 6–5. With the ecstatic win over SDSU, the Tritons ended the regular season with an overall record of 24–9.
With under two minutes remaining in the first period, UCSD broke the stalemate through redshirt junior two-meter defender Alexis Wieseler’s goal. But, the 1–0 lead lasted only 34 seconds, as SDSU freshman driver Hannah Carrillo quickly responded with a goal of her own to make for an exciting end to the first.
The second quarter provided a bit of an end-to-end spectacle with the Aztecs taking the lead at the six-minute mark. Freshman center Chanel Schilling kept the Tritons in it with a goal two minutes later to make the match leveled once again, 2–2, though SDSU continued their strong offensive play and ended the quarter with a 3–2 lead.
After the break, a rejuvenated Triton team came out firing and eventually grabbed its first lead since the first quarter with two goals in the period, senior attackers Julia Kirkland and Laurel Kistler each with one. Later on, with less than a minute remaining in the quarter, the Aztecs once again were able to score a goal and make it a tied match, 4–4.
The score remained deadlocked at 4–4 at the end of regulation, therefore multiple overtime periods would be the decider. A minute and 38 seconds remained in the overtime when UCSD regained the lead and thought it had grabbed the win at 5–4. But it just was not meant to be: At that moment, for the third time in the match, the Aztecs were able to score a goal with less than a minute left in the overtime.
The match came down to sudden death, first to score wins. Boyer received the ball down low when she produced a moment of brilliance, having a condensed space and facing away from the goal, a back-hand shot reached the back of the net and gave UCSD the win. The sudden death win gave rise to a frenzy for the 1,014 fans that witnessed such a captivating match.
The rivalry game marked the last regular-season game for seniors Kirkland, Kistler, Courtney Miller, Emma Sasson, and Lauren Finwell.
The win on Friday evening marked only the second victory against San Diego State for the Harper Cup in 15 attempts. Senior goalie Courtney Miller recorded 13 saves during the match and took the honor of being named the Harper Cup MVP.
Next up, the Tritons will head north to the Bay Area to compete in the Western Water Polo Association Championships at Chabot College, April 29 to May 1. UCSD will start defending the conference crown in the semi-finals as they were awarded a first round bye.