No. 15 Water Polo Breezes By Chapman University, 14-3

The No. 15 UCSD women’s water polo swept away with a crushing 14-3 win over Chapman University in the familiar water of the Canyonview Pool on April 12, improving the team’s record to 15-13 on the season.

Billy Wong/Guardian
Sophomore goalkeeper Kim Hockett was a brick wall in front of the net in the Tritons’ 14-3 win over Chapman University on April 12. Hockett did her part, holding the Panthers to three goals, and UCSD’s offense performed as well, with Hockett’s sister, Natalie, notching five goals.

UCSD came out with a lot of energy and pumped out a 4-0 lead at the start of the match with two goals by senior driver Flynn LaRochelle and one each from junior two-meter Natalie Hockett and junior utility Michelle Perkins.

The team would add one more goal for a 5-0 lead and go into the half with everything working.

Sophomore utility Nicole Hermann described the Tritons’ efforts against Chapman as “a smoothly executed game of constant momentum.”

The momentum carried over into the second half, as the Tritons continued their barrage with goals from junior two-meter Sarah Bajorek and Hermann and two from senior two-meter Kirsten Frazer. After the quick start to the half, the Tritons saw their 9-0 shutout prospects vanish, as the Panthers scored their first goal of the match with one minute, 48 seconds left in the third quarter on a goal by junior driver Kristen Carter. Junior driver Miho Umezawa answered back with a goal of her own to return the Panthers’ deficit to nine by the end of the period.

Chapman went on to score two more meaningless points before the bell tolled. UCSD’s offense proved too strong for the Panther defense in the fourth quarter, as Hockett tallied three more goals and Bajorek added the final goal, her second of the game, for the 14-3 win.

The final score was proof of the Tritons’ domination and questioned whether Chapman could compete with a perennial water polo powerhouse like UCSD.

Umezawa, whose steal and goal put the Tritons up by nine in the third quarter, wasn’t too concerned with the pressure of her opponents from the start.

“They don’t seem to have such a developed program and just couldn’t seem to keep up with us or put their shots away,” Umezawa said.

Luckily for the Tritons, it turned out to be a fairly easy win, unlike the inconsistent results at the UC Davis Shootout on April 8 and April 9. In the first matchup against UC Santa Cruz on April 8, Hockett led the way to victory with four goals, supported by freshman utility Nicole Afflerback, who added three more to the score to squash the Banana Slugs with a finish of 17-6.

The next game, however, pitted UCSD against the host Aggies and proved to be more problematic for the Tritons, who were defeated in a close 5-6 matchup.

The next day of competition proved to be another split day for the Tritons, as they lost in overtime to No. 20 Santa Clara University and beat unranked Colorado State University by a score of 14-6.

Bajorek called the Santa Clara loss a “strange game because of some external factors,” referring to the fact that the players were not able to receive guidance from their coach, Larry Sanders, who was red carded in the Davis game.

No matter how inconsistent the results over the last few weeks, there is no doubt that Sanders has helped mold a dedicated team. The team’s endurance of seven-and-a-half-hour-a-day practices during spring break serves as a testament to the player’s desire.

“Our team has an amazing amount of depth and are insanely driven,” Perkins said.

Though most of the girls are willing to admit that practices have slowed down somewhat from the intense training to more strategy-based sessions, their motivation is still in full throttle as the last few weeks of the season approach.

“Quantity of practicing is diminished, but the quality is improving greatly,” Bajorek said. “I think we are all more focused and sharp now that we’re getting down to crunch time.”

The ladies will see if they can continue to make some waves at their next home game against UC Santa Barbara on April 15.