Tritons end regular season with split

    The UCSD women’s water polo team sped down the final stretch of the 2003 regular season this past weekend, splitting games with CSU San Bernardino and SDSU.

    Jake Mumm
    Guardian

    In the emotionally charged regular season home finale on April 18, UCSD’s departing seniors treated the home crowd to one more dazzling performance by opening the offensive floodgates after a close first half to handily defeat the Coyotes, 13-6. The Tritons carried the momentum of the victory with them across town to face the Aztecs in the Harper Cup on April 19, but couldn’t produce the same results in a hard fought 9-5 loss.

    The Tritons went into their final home game of the season against conference foe CSU San Bernardino, seeking to gain momentum before the Western Water Polo Association championships begin on April 25. Before the battle commenced, Triton seniors Dana Tucker, Danielle Boyle, Samara Silverman, Elizabeth Keesey, Renae Coulter, Kari Lyman and Danielle Bourret were honored in a pre-game ceremony, commemorating their contributions to UCSD women’s water polo.

    The first half was an unusually slow one for UCSD, as game jitters seemed to contribute to shaky play early on. Keesey bounced in three goals, and Boyle and junior Meris Bantilan-Smith contributed scores with shots from six meters out. The Coyotes managed to find holes in the distracted Triton defense, responding to UCSD’s six goals with four of their own, despite the fact that the San Bernardino offense consisted mainly of shots coming from the same spot toward the northeast corner of the pool. The Tritons held off the Coyotes while struggling with their emotions, maintaining the 6-4 lead going into halftime.

    “”Everything was so emotional,”” Tucker said. “”The first quarter and a half, we didn’t come out concentrating, and that was because of all the emotions; it may be being our last game here and all.””

    The Tritons showed up in the second half as a focused team, shutting down the Coyote offense and finding their goal-scoring touch. The seniors took the reins of the scoring, contributing four goals in the final two periods. The result was a lopsided 7-2 second half and a 13-6 Triton victory.

    “”We’re going to face San Bernardino in the first round up in Bakersfield [in the WWPA championships], and it was important for us to show them tonight that they’re not going to have an easy game,”” said Triton head coach Larry Sanders.

    The next afternoon, the Tritons headed out to face SDSU in the second annual Harper Cup, named after current Triton men’s water polo head coach Denny Harper, who coached both Sanders and current Aztec head coach Carin Crawford at UCSD.

    The Tritons sought to bring the cup to UCSD for the first time, and by jumping out to a 2-1 lead before the second quarter, it seemed as if they were going to be successful. The Aztecs came charging back, converting three 6-on-5 man-up opportunities, while allowing only one Triton goal, taking a 4-3 lead at half-time.

    UCSD played tough in the third, with Tucker replying to another Aztec goal with a goal of her own to keep things close at 5-4.

    In the fourth, however, SDSU pulled ahead of the Tritons for good, this time with four goals. Tucker added one more goal, but UCSD couldn’t come up with any more to answer the Aztec challenge. Tucker led the Tritons with three goals, while Boyle and Bantilan-Smith each contributed a goal. With the 9-5 triumph, the Aztecs will continue to possess the Harper Cup and the mythical title of City Champion.

    After finishing the season with a solid 22-13 record, the Tritons look ahead to the WWPA Championships on April 25 through April 27, in hopes of capturing a conference title, and with UCSD playing host to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Water Polo Championship this year, the opportunity to play one more game at Canyonview Pool.

    “”In practice, we always see these giant stands [erected exclusively for the NCAA championships], and it’s just extra motivation for us to come home and finish up the season in the final four,”” Keesey said.

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