UCSD wins big over two ranked opponents

    On Sept. 25, the No. 5 UCSD men’s water polo team completed a flawless performance at the 2005 UC Santa Cruz Slugfest. The men posted a 4-0 tournament record with two big wins over No. 8 Long Beach State and No. 20 UC Santa Cruz.

    The Tritons, led by co-captains senior Brandon Borso and junior Joe Woodring, started the match off strongly, scoring six goals in the first period, while allowing the 49ers only three goals.

    In the second quarter, both teams scored two goals apiece, but after halftime the Tritons had renewed energy and netted three more goals to Long Beach’s two. In the fourth quarter, the 49ers gave one last push, but were unable to cap the victory, and the Tritons walked away with a 12-10 win.

    “One of the key moments on a positive note [from the tournament], was when we came out and outscored Long Beach [State] in the first quarter with tremendous outside shooting,” head coach Denny Harper said. “It was definitely a different way to beat them then the last time we played Long Beach where [senior] Jonathan Hopkins scored six goals.”

    Just three hours later, the Tritons faced host UC Santa Cruz in the last game of the tournament. The Tritons outscored the Banana Slugs in the first three quarters and both teams came up with a goal apiece in the last quarter.

    The Tritons jumped into the lead at the start of the match with a 6-1 finish at the end of the first quarter.

    The men’s constant pressure on Santa Cruz’s defense carried them to a 16-6 victory.

    “In 10 straight years there [at the Slugfest] we have never lost a ball game. Our mentality going into the tournament was just to go in there and win our four matches,” Harper said.

    Unfortunately, the game was marred when senior Clark Peterson went to block a Santa Cruz backhand and broke two bones in his right hand. According to Harper, he is expected to be on the disabled list for 4-12 weeks.

    After the two-day tournament, the Tritons improved their overall record to 16-6, capping off their first four weeks of intensive play.

    Borso put up five goals for the Tritons in Sunday’s games combined, while Hopkins also scored multiple goals in each game.

    Led by Harper, the Tritons have enjoyed success as one of the top programs in the country. Last year, the Tritons gained valuable experience as a young team and lost only one senior this year.

    “This is a group of individuals that have been together for five years; basically, what it comes down to is that these are older guys that know what is expected of them,” Harper said.

    Due to strategic team planning, the Tritons lost only one senior last year, Nick Cooper, and had redshirted players in order to improve the experience and skill-level of the team by the players’ senior year.

    The Tritons will host No. 8 Long Beach State in their third consecutive weekend match on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.

    The first time the two teams met at the Southern California Invitational, the Tritons pulled away with an 11-10 victory on Hopkins’ game-winning goal that came with 23 seconds left in sudden death overtime.

    “Long Beach State is a a very good team, there were many critical plays that could have gone either way,” Harper said. “Their coach will probably bring something new to the table that we’ll have to prepare for. We were very appreciative of the turnout last Friday. Hopefully we can repeat that again for Saturday’s big game.”

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