UCSD finishes fourth at LBSU Invitational

    Heading into the crucial final weeks before the Western Water Polo Association Championships, the UCSD women’s water polo team headed out to the Los Angeles area, April 11 through April 13, to compete against conference rivals Loyola Marymount and take part in the Long Beach State Invitational. On the way to a fourth-place finish at the tournament, the Tritons picked up victories over CSU Bakersfield, Cal Baptist, UC Irvine and Arizona State, but failed to shake off early defensive lapses in close losses to LMU and SDSU.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian file

    “”We came out strong early in both losses,”” said UCSD head coach Larry Sanders. “”But after we would grab our first goal, it seemed like we would let up a bit, and that’s when [LMU and SDSU] would get ahead of us.””

    UCSD opened up its busy weekend with a big game against Loyola Marymount on April 11; a victory over the conference-leading Lions would give the Tritons great momentum heading into the WWPA Championships. UCSD looked sharp early on as Elizabeth Keesey gave the Tritons a 1-0 lead just 33 seconds into the game. After an LMU equalizer, Triton co-captain Dana Tucker converted a four-meter penalty shot to regain the lead. Unfortunately, that was the last time UCSD would hold the advantage, as LMU hit the next three goals to take a 4-2 lead. The Lions and Tritons traded goals a couple more times in the half, making the score at intermission 7-4 in favor of LMU. Tucker scored the only point in a defensive second half, and UCSD could not get any closer in the 7-5 loss.

    The sting of defeat seemed to follow UCSD into its first game of the LBSU Invitational on April 12, where Bakersfield jumped out to a surprising 3-1 advantage with 3:30 left in the first, only to find the Tritons giving a five-goal reply to take a 6-3 lead. The Roadrunners would score two more in the second to make it 6-5 before the Tritons went on another goal-scoring streak, putting up four straight for a 10-5 lead, on the way to a 13-7 win. Tucker and Samara Silverman led the UCSD scoring with three goals each.

    The Tritons moved on to their next game, taking on Cal Baptist for the fourth time this season. Although the Lancers had been making progress against UCSD, losing by only one in their last meeting on March 28, the Tritons shut down the Lacers’ momentum early on, scoring nine straight after two goals from their opponent, en route to a 13-2 blowout. Once again, Tucker and Silverman took charge of the Triton scoring, with four and three goals, respectively.

    UCSD’s two victories set up a pivotal game with cross-town foe SDSU; the winner of the match would take Group 3 and compete for first place the next day. UCSD played tough against the Aztecs, finding itself down only 3-2 after the first period, and remaining down by only one goal for most of the match, with Keesey’s three goals keeping them in contention. However, the Tritons couldn’t find the tying goal, despite numerous offensive opportunities, and the Aztecs took charge the rest of the way, grabbing a 9-6 victory.

    The loss put the Tritons smack-dab in the middle of the competition for fourth place, along with Arizona State and UC Irvine. The Sun Devils gave the Tritons quite the challenge in the first game, taking the match into overtime. The decision didn’t come until Silverman rushed to the rescue with the game-winning goal that capped off a brilliant UCSD comeback and earned them a 9-8 win.

    The Tritons rushed right back in the pool only an hour and a half later to face off against the Anteaters. Fatigue contributed to a 3-1 Irvine lead at the half, but UCSD came up with another trademark comeback, putting up six goals in the second half to take 7-5 decision and secure fourth place.

    “”Fourth place was a good finish for us, but we’re aiming for bigger things; we need to come out strong every quarter, not just three periods”” Sanders said.

    The Tritons get another shot at the Aztecs on April 19 at SDSU, but expect the emotions to run high on April 18, when the Triton seniors play their final game at Canyonview Pool against CSU San Bernardino at 6 p.m.

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