Men's water polo beats Princeton

    Three members of the UCSD men’s water polo team felt right at home Oct. 4. The site of Bellarmine Prep High School in San Jose, Calif., was supposed to be neutral for the Tritons’ game against East Coast power Princeton. However, Triton sophomores Kevin Smoker and Travis Boettner, as well as freshman Jesse Casellini, are all Ballarmine Prep graduates.

    “”It was very nice to go play in the pool where I learned how to play polo,”” Smoker said.

    The Tigers played close with the Tritons throughout most of the game. Standout 2-meter offensive player Sean Foster came out hot for the Tigers, but couldn’t adapt to the Triton defense, which made some mid-game adjustments to shut Foster down.

    “”After he scored a few goals on us, we changed our defense in order to shut him down,”” said senior goalie Lance Onken.

    After the first quarter, the game was tied at two. The Tritons then took a 4-3 lead going into halftime. After Princeton tied the game at four in the third quarter, UCSD senior Bryon Spicer took control.

    With an assist by Onken on a counterattack, Spicer scored to give the Tritons the 5-4 lead. Minutes later, on an assist from Smoker, Spicer again found the back of the net, this time on a 10-meter shot. Spicer’s two goals broke the game open and gave UCSD a 6-4 advantage.

    “”The shots felt good,”” Spicer said of his back-to-back goals.

    The Tritons never looked back after that point. Outscoring Princeton 3-2 in the final period, UCSD held on for the 9-6 victory.

    “”Spicer’s two goals in the second half were key,”” Smoker said after the game.

    The Tritons continued to use a 6-for-6 substitution pattern that not only kept players fresh, but allowed 12 Triton field players to play significant minutes. Sophomore Brandon Borso paced the balanced UCSD scoring attack this time, tallying a total of three goals in the game.

    Along with the chance to play a top ranked team from the East Coast, the Tritons were exited to use the game against the Tigers as a springboard going into the NorCal Tournament, where they faced some of the top teams in the country this past weekend.

    “”[This game] was a nice warm-up for the tournament,”” Spicer said.

    With the win over Princeton, UCSD has won six-straight games and improved its record to 10-6 on the season after a trying 4-6 start.

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