UCSD wins three in tourney

Riding the wave of a 2-0 start, UCSD women’s water polo sought to defend its No. 8 national ranking this past weekend when it played host to some of the nation’s top squads in the UCSD Arena Invitational on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9. After stumbling early in the tournament with a loss to UC Santa Barbara, the Tritons stormed right back with victories over Cal Baptist and conference foes UC Davis and CSU Bakersfield to finish with a 3-1 record for the competition and seventh place overall.

Rebecca Drexler

Junior Miranda Paulson was the star for the Tritons, scoring nine goals during the tournament and earning All-Tournament Team honors. The transfer student from Mt. San Antonio College had problems finding her goal-scoring touch before, but now she has found her place in the Triton offensive scheme.

“”I was kind of timid coming into the games originally, but after I got used to everything, it all began to click,”” Paulson said.

The Tritons opened up their 2003 home schedule the night before the tournament on Feb. 7 with a 3-2 victory over University of Michigan. The game was scoreless for a quarter and a half until the Wolverines broke the deadlock with 5:18 remaining in the second period. In the third quarter, Paulson fired two goals, giving UCSD a 2-1 lead. In the final period, Paulson added one more goal but Michigan kept it close with a goal at the 2:30 mark. However, UCSD’s defense held on to escape with the victory.

Rebecca Drexler

UCSD began tournament play on Feb. 8 with its first defeat of the season, a 5-2 loss to UCSB. The Triton defense held the Gauchos in check with their press but failed to capitalize on offense, going only one-for-six on power-plays and scoring just two goals on 19 shots.

UCSB scored early on in the game to take a one-goal lead, which soon vanished in the second quarter, courtesy of Paulson’s equalizer. The Gauchos responded with two goals before the end of the half and then added two more scores in the third period to put the game out of reach.

“”We had some confidence after [Paulson’s] goal tied things up, but as we continued to be pressed and pushed out, we lost that edge,”” said UCSD head coach Larry Sanders about the lack of offensive fire.

In its next game, UCSD found itself matched up against Cal Baptist, a team they previously beat this year 10-3. This time, however, the game was more competitive, since the two teams furiously traded goals throughout the contest, which eventually ended in a 10-8 UCSD win.

Paulson led the UCSD scoring with four goals and Co-captain Dana Tucker had two goals of her own.

Feb. 9 proved to be the turnaround day for the Tritons. The previous day’s mistakes were cleaned up, and UCSD came out hot.

“”Today we made a stronger team effort,”” said Boyle, referring to the second day of the tournament. “”After losing to UCSB, we weren’t going to lose any more games in this tournament.””

UCSD played against conference rival UC Davis on Feb. 9 and defeated the Aggies 5-4. Paulson once again played a pivotal role, scoring two goals in the first quarter to give the Tritons a 2-0 advantage. Danielle Bourret and Tucker each added a goal to give UCSD a 4-1 lead going into halftime.

The Triton defense allowed few scoring opportunities for the Aggies in the final 1:33 when UC Davis was only a goal behind.

In the final matchup against Bakersfield, UCSD dominated the Roadrunners throughout the game, winning by a score of 8-5. Tucker and Paulson each added two goals to a high-powered offense that scored six goals before halftime.

Sanders summed up his take on the tournament.

“”We had some key wins — it sets that momentum and it makes a statement: ‘Hey, you have to beat us!'”” he said.

At the end of the competition, Long Beach State, LMU and SDSU stood atop the standings, but Long Beach took home the crown with a 6-5 victory over LMU.