Water polo splits at home, now 7-5

    The UCSD women’s water polo team began a nine-game homestand with key games against the University of Michigan on Wednesday and Western Water Polo Association rival Loyola Marymount University Saturday.

    The Tritons finished .500 for the week and now stand with a 7-5 overall record.

    Their first game of the week took place Wednesday night against Michigan. The teams battled back and forth, leading to a 3-3 halftime score.

    Early in the third quarter with the score still tied, UCSD coach Larry Sanders called a timeout that helped set the pace for the rest of the game.

    The Tritons went on to score three more goals in the game and held the Wolverines to just one goal for the second half, shutting them out in the fourth quarter. The final score was the same as the score these teams held the previous weekend in a Santa Barbara tournament, with UCSD once again wining 6-4.

    Junior Dana Tucker led the Tritons with three goals while senior Emma Kruditzki, junior Samara Silverman and sophomore Meris Bantilan-Smith each netted one goal.

    Sanders was not completely satisfied with his team’s victory.

    “”We were able to play aggressive defense,”” he said. “”We played good enough to win, but not to our full potential.””

    Tucker agreed.

    “”We still need to work out some things,”” Tucker said. “”We need to cash in on our opportunities to score.””

    Three days later, UCSD faced the current top-ranked team in the WWPA, Loyola Marymount. The two teams, along with UC Davis, have brewed a triangular rivalry in recent years, creating a playoff atmosphere whenever they battle.

    This game was no exception.

    The Tritons jumped out of the gates early with exceptional defensive play and built a 2-0 lead late in the second quarter with goals by Tucker and senior Courtney Hemmerly.

    However, with less than four seconds left in the half, the Lions were able to slip a goal through. The goal came off the rebound from a save made by junior goalie Stephanie Lombardo.

    This shifted the momentum in LMU’s favor, and the team took control of the game in the second half. Loyola Marymount completely shut the Tritons down in the second half, not allowing any goals and scoring three of its own while defeating UCSD 4-2.

    “”This is a great rivalry and a difficult place to play,”” said LMU head coach John Loughran after his team’s victory. “”Any time championship-caliber teams face off, anything can happen.””

    A failure to take advantage of ejections was a major factor in the Tritons’ loss.

    UCSD went 0-for-6 on the game while the Lions converted on two of five ejections.

    “”We knew what we needed to do and got away from that,”” Sanders said. “”We need to master our own game and play four full quarters of water polo.””

    Bantilan-Smith agreed.

    “”We just didn’t execute today,”” she said. “”We have a lot of work to do, but our chemistry is improving with every game.””

    The team continued its homestand with weekend games against Pomona-Pitzer, Claremont College, and top 10-ranked Long Beach State. The ’49ers pose another tough test for the Tritons. Results were not available at press time, but the team felt confident going in.

    “”They will be a big challenge for us,”” Sanders said. “”I think we are very capable of beating them.””

    Hemmerly further expressed the team’s confidence as it looks to rebound from the last defeat.

    “”I think we’re up for the challenge,”” she said. “”Our defense is f—— awesome, and having a real strong set makes this team a top contender.””

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