UCSD Menís Water Polo Team Begins Promising season 5-3

    ìYes, this is the highest rank we have had to start the season,î said coach Denny Harper. ìBut I donít care about where we start, Iím more interested in where we finish.î

    Fully loaded: UCSD¹s Jonathan Hopkins takes a shot against UC Berkeley at Canyonview Pool on Sep. 19. The Tritons lost to no. 3 Golden Bears 11-8.

    Harper has an excellent resume in his 22 years at UCSD. He consistently had teams ranked in the top 12, and has never led the Tritons to lower than a third-place finish in the conference. His teams have captured 12 titles and seven runner-up trophies. Although this could very well be one of Harperís best teams, he wonít compare any of his teams.

    ìWe have very high aspirations, as we always do,î Harper said. ìI donít get into comparing any of my teams. Iíll simply say we have some great talent on this team.î

    This talented team starts two seniors and many juniors, including last yearís leading scorers Brandon Borso and Jonathan Hopkins. At goalie is sophomore Colin McElroy, who will be a key to this yearís success.

    A tall order: UCSD¹s Clark Petersen and his teammates endured a tough early season schedule, facing top ranked teams like Cal, USC and Stanford.

    ìWe start a young goalie. The play of Colin McElroy this season will have a lot to do with our success,î Harper said.

    This talent was evident at the season opener, the 2003 UC San Diego Triton Menís Water Polo Invitational at Canyonview Pool. The team went 4-0 and won the tournament.

    In the first day of the tournament, UCSD won both its games handedly. In the first game, UCSD crushed Pomona-Pitzer 25-2. Last year’s leading scorer Hopkins started this season off where he left off, scoring four goals. Adding to the rout were Jendrusina and Borso, along with senior co-captain Matthew Ustaszewski, scored three goals apiece. The Tritons continued to flex their muscles against their next opponent, Redlands, and rolled to a 16-3 victory to finish the day. Hopkins was spectacular again with five goals, while junior Clark Petersen scored four times and Jendrusina had three.

    UCSD wasted no time in the second day of the tournament and defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters 10-8. UCSD led throughout the whole match, 3-1 after the first period, 9-5 after three periods and held on for the victory. Once again, Hopkins was the star with

    three goals. Borso and sophomore Chris Eichholz added two apiece.

    In the finals, UCSD struck first and led the match 4-2 at the half against UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos never quit and tied the game at the end of the third period on a goal by freshman Matt Dale. Another freshman, Joe Ferguson, helped push UC Santa Barbara to the lead in the final period. However, UCSDís talent and experience took over and it was all Tritons after that. The Tritons scored four unanswered goals in a 2:36 span. In this game, the hero was Borso, who scored three goals, and also senior Matt Ellis, whoís breakaway goal gave the Tritons the lead for good.

    After a great 4-0 start, UCSD traveled to Los Angeles to take on the No. 2 ranked University of South Carolina Trojans. The Tritons were confident heading into USC and had beaten the Trojans in the past.

    In the first half, UCSD showed that this team also had the potential to beat the Trojans as they held a 4-1 in the second period. Hopkins got UCSD on the board with 3:26 remaining in the first period, and Borso followed him at the 1:46 mark. Hopkins added another goal to increase his total to 16 on the season in just five games. Jendrusina scored the next goal for the Tritons.

    However, the Tritons could not get any more goals the rest of the match and USC tied the score at 4-4 at the half, and then scored five more goals in the second half to win 9-4.

    ìIn the past, we were able to score goals in the second half; this year we did not score a single goal at USC in the second half. We went 0-13,î Harper said.

    Unfortunately for the Tritons, they had no time to worry about their loss, since they faced another top-ranked opponent in Cal, which is ranked third, and last year’s NCAA national runners up. UCSD put up a good fight at Canyonview Pool, but was just outlasted by the Golden Bears, 11-8.

    For the second straight game, the Tritons were unable to hold onto to a first-half lead. UCSD had an 8-7 lead 28 seconds into the fourth period. Cal was 5-11 on man-up situations, while UCSD was only 4-11. The loss dropped UCSD to 4-2 on the season. UCSD had an 8-7 lead 28 seconds into the fourth

    period when Cal stepped up and scored four unanswered goals to claim the victory. All-American Attila Banhidy led Calís attack, netting four goals while UCSDís Ustaszewski contributed three goals. This loss dropped UCSD to 4-2 on the season and improved Calís record to 2-0.

    The Tritons then traveled to Irvine, Calif. on Sep. 20 and 21 to

    participate in the Southern California Menís Water Polo Tournament that included the countryís top four teams.

    UCSD first faced off against no. 11 UC Santa Barbara and edged the Gauchos 6-5, improving to 5-2 in the season. The Tritons attacked right away, scoring five goals in the first half. Borso and Ustaszweski each scored a

    pair and Ellis tallied one to give UCSD a 5-3 advantage. The Tritons denied a comeback by the Gauchos in the second half with Clark Petersen scoring the

    sixth goal for the Tritons in the third period, securing the victory.

    UCSDís next opponent was top ranked Stanford and the Cardinal proved to be too much for the Tritons, beating them 14-8. UCSD battled Stanford in the first half, scoring four in the first period and adding one more in the second to knot it up at 5-5 at halftime. However, the Cardinal took control in the second half, peppering the Tritons with nine goals and allowing only three past their goalie Chad Taylor.

    UCSDís Hopkins tallied a pair of goals while Cooper, Peterson, Borso, Ustaszewski, Eicholz and Ellis each contributed one goal in the losing effort. Stanfordís Tony Azevedo scored four goals and Mike Derse scored three to lead the Cardinal attack. This loss dropped UCSD to 5-3 and Stanford to 2-0 for the season.

    Next for UCSD is no.12 Loyola Marymount in the consolation semifinal on Sunday, Sep. 21. Results for this game were not available at press time.

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