UCSD takes third place at tourney

    For the second time in three weeks, the women’s water polo team took three out of four games in a tournament, securing third place at the UC Davis Shootout on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.

    Rebecca Drexler
    Guardian file photo

    UCSD played strong early in the competition, easily defeating UC Santa Cruz and Australia University Sport on the first day before losing a tough match to conference rival UC Davis in the semifinals. However, the Tritons recovered from the setback to defeat Hartwick College of New York in the third-place game.

    After 10 this season games, UCSD has secured an 8-2 record.

    While disappointed with the outcome of the Davis game, Triton head coach Larry Sanders was still pleased with UCSD’s performance in the tournament.

    “”We felt like we should have won it all, but third place was still a strong finish, especially with the win against Hartwick,”” Sanders said.

    In a tournament tune-up on Feb. 20, UCSD scored five unanswered goals to defeat San Jose State 5-3 at Canyonview Pool. After struggling offensively and finding themselves down 3-0 with 6:04 left in the first half, the Tritons struck back with goals from Samara Silverman and Danielle Bourret to cut the Spartan lead to one at halftime. UCSD’s momentum carried over into the second half when co-captains Danielle Boyle and Dana Tucker scored one and two goals, respectively, to bring the tally to 5-3 in favor of the Tritons. UCSD’s defense did the rest, holding SJSU scoreless for the rest of the match.

    “”We came out slow, but we got that intensity in the second half; we got goals, and that’s what gave us the game,”” Tucker said of the Triton comeback.

    Then, in UCSD’s tournament opener against Santa Cruz on Feb. 22, the Tritons piled up one goal after another to take a commanding 7-1 lead at halftime and eventually a 14-1 lead in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Banana Slugs hit three consolation goals to finish off the one-sided game, a 14-4 UCSD triumph.

    Tucker and Miranda Paulson were the top scorers of the match with three goals apiece. Maris Bantilan-Smith and Elizabeth Keesey also added two goals each.

    In its next game, UCSD faced off against Australia University Sport, a club team composed of athletes from various Australian colleges. The Aussies proved to be a more formidable foe than UCSC, but the Tritons continued to dominate, taking a 5-1 advantage at halftime and finishing with a 9-5 victory that propelled UCSD to the semifinals. Once again, Paulson and Tucker were the top scorers, with three and two goals, respectively. The win did not officially go on UCSD’s record, however, because AUS in not a National Collegiate Athletic Association-sanctioned four-year school.

    In the semifinals against Davis, UCSD’s defense showed up to play, but unfortunately, the Triton offense couldn’t find its goal-scoring form and fell to the Aggies in a low-scoring contest 3-1. Paulson was the lone goal-scorer for UCSD. The Tritons kept things close for most of the game and entered the half with the game tied at one apiece, but they failed to convert on man-ups and breakaways and couldn’t come up with any goals to match the two that Davis put up in the third quarter.

    “”Our defense worked; we had great communication, but our offense didn’t flow like it normally does,”” Boyle said.

    Later that day, UCSD found itself in a shootout for third place against Hartwick, but the transition to a press defense proved to be the decisive factor when the Tritons held the Hawks to one goal in the second half en route to a 9-8 victory. The game wasn’t decided until the final minute, when Keesey scored to break an 8-8 tie. The potent UCSD offense made its triumphant return when Tucker, Paulson and Keesey each scored two goals in the contest. The Tritons also went 9-for-28 on shots, a definite improvement from the dismal 1-for-14 against Davis.

    “”Once we put the clamps on [Hartwick]; we were able to shut them down and take over the perimeter,”” Sanders said.

    Despite the strong finish, Sanders insists that changes must be made if UCSD is to play well when the Tritons square off against Claremont College and cross-town rival SDSU on March 1.

    “”We’re looking forward to playing [San Diego] State; it’s a big rivalry, and I think we’re going to give them a run for their money … but we need to come out and take control of the game; we can’t be playing catch-up anymore,”” he said.

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