Three Tritons named All-Americans

    Two careers got the ultimate icing on the cake. One even got a taste of better things to come.

    Rachel A. Garcia
    Guardian file

    Seniors Dana Tucker and Samara Silverman and junior Meris Bantilan-Smith each earned a spot alongside some of the most storied players in Triton water polo history on May 22 when the trio was named to the 2003 Division II Women’s All-American team. While all three were commended for their outstanding play throughout the season, it was Tucker who came away the big winner, earning the 2003 Division II Player of the Year honors.

    “”They all played well this season and deserved those awards,”” said UCSD head coach Larry Sanders. “”Dana was definitely one of the better two-meter players in the country, Samara was a daring player on both sides of the pool, and Meris also did great things.””

    With the awards, Tucker and Silverman cap off a strong season and illustrious careers full of accolades that have only confirmed their status as two of the best players to ever set foot in a UCSD pool.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Tucker’s 2003 performance was more than deserving of the Player of the Year honor; as UCSD’s co-captain, she led the Tritons with 63 goals, 25 assists and a single-season record of 87 ejections drawn. Tucker also blasted her way into the career section of the Triton record book, finishing fifth on the all-time scoring list with 157 goals and first in the ejections-drawn category with 219 over a four-year stretch. This marks the second-straight year that Tucker has earned All-American honors.

    Silverman was the master of water polo pilfering, racking up 280 steals over her four-year career, annihilating the previous record by 106. Silverman also found it necessary to keep topping herself year after year; her 85 steals this season mark the third time she has beaten her own single-season record.

    With one year left in a Triton uniform, Bantilan-Smith will carry on the torch of Triton firepower, which will be left behind by her departing teammates without having to prove that she can stand with some of the greats.

    She’s been there, done that.

    Bantilan-Smith, a three-year starter for UCSD, was second in both goals and steals this year, right behind Tucker and Silverman with 41 and 50, respectively.

    Tucker’s award is the second-straight Division II Player of the Year honor for UCSD; Emma Kudritzki won the coveted award in 2002. All eyes for the continuation of the streak lay on Bantilan-Smith, who is expected to make a strong run for the honor in 2004.

    “”Meris is going to have the mantle upon her head next year,”” Sanders said. Hopefully she’ll do the good things that she’s been doing all along.””

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