A Tough Weekend Trips up Triton Water Polo

    UCSD allowed nine straight goals in the second half to visiting UC Irvine, losing to the third-ranked Anteaters 10-2.

    Leo Der Stepanians/

    After a defensive gem of a first half, the score was tied 1-1 and it looked like the eighth-ranked Tritons were going to be able to give Irvine a run for its money.

    “”I don’t think I have ever seen a quarter go 0-0 like the first one did,”” said triton head coach Denny Harper That was absolutely incredible and our guys really did a great job out there.””

    Starting the second half, UCSD even managed to take a brief lead on a Justin Wylie goal. That, however, was all she wrote, as the Anteaters took control of the game from that point, and in effect, shut UCSD down at both ends of the pool.

    “”The wheels just seemed to come off near the end of the third quarter,”” Harper said. “”We were leaning into out-front court offense and Irvine was taking advantage of it.””

    The game was really a story of two halves. The first half saw perfect execution by UCSD, at least defensively, as they stymied almost every attempt of Irvine’s to make inroads into their territory.

    “”We came out more aggressive than we have in the past couple of weeks,”” UCSD goalie Glenn Busch said. “”We were able to hold them in the first half.””

    The only goal the Anteaters could manage in the first half came at that 5:24 mark of the second quarter.

    The Tritons were not down for long, as two minutes later Justin Wylie, who scored both Triton goals on the day, tossed one in to even the score.

    The second half was a disaster compared to the first two quarters. UCSD seemed to go into a free-fall with nothing to stop them except the final whistle.

    After scoring the first goal of the half, mental breakdowns plagued UCSD, as they allowed nine straight unanswered goals.

    “”There were some bad individual mental breakdowns in the game,”” Harper said. “”This is something we will work on right up until we leave for Hawaii.””

    While Irvine took its game to another level, UCSD floundered, searching for the form that had it ranked as high as fifth earlier in the year.

    The Tritons could not seem to get on track offensively in the second half and their offensive ineptitude led to the Anteaters’ counterattack and created opportunities for Irvine that just should not have been there.

    “”The team played well today and every aspect of the game went well,”” Harper said. “”The only problem we really had was allowing the Irvine counterattack to take over the game in the second half.””

    With the loss, UCSD’s record drops to 17-8 and the Anteaters improve to 15-5.

    The Tritons must look forward to the Western Water Polo Association Championships two weekends from now. To be held in Honolulu, it is of utmost importance that UCSD have an excellent showing there and win in order to gain a berth into the NCAA tournament to be held Dec. 2 through Dec. 3 in Malibu, Calif.

    UCSD also plays Friday in a warm-up match for championships against the local “”old man’s”” club, Sunset San Diego. Sunset counts many former UCSD players among its ranks and coach Harper thinks they can give the Triton’s a run for their money.

    The game is at Canyonview Pool on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.

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