Fourth-Quarter Surges Propel Men’s Water Polo

With the highest national ranking in school history, the No. 4 UCSD men’s water polo team found ways to win two tough games on the road against 15th-ranked Cal State Long Beach and No. 9 UC Santa Barbara, improving its record to 14-2.

The match against UC Santa Barbara turned out to be one of the most difficult games this season due in part to unusual pool dimensions. One side of the pool was considerably shallower than the other — different than Canyonview Pool.

“They’re used to playing that way but it totally threw us off,” senior goalkeeper Jeremy Randall said. “We were thrown off for the first three quarters but turned it on in the fourth quarter and got it done.”

The Gauchos got on the board first, but the two teams went back and forth all game long. After a 3-3 first quarter, the Tritons were able to take the lead on a penalty shot scored by senior utility Jesse Casellini and after trading goals, UCSD led 6-5 going into halftime.

The Tritons added another point to their lead only to have UC Santa Barbara score twice in the third period to tie the game at 7-7. The intensity flared in the fourth quarter as the two teams continued to battle. After two goals by each team, senior two meter Ty Lackey’s score at the 2 minute, 18 second mark would be the difference. Casellini added an insurance goal for safe measure and the two led the Tritons to the win with four goals apiece.

Long Beach State also refused to let the Tritons get away with an easy win, and slid behind UCSD by a close one-point margin.

Arriving just 45 minutes before the game on Sept. 30, UCSD defeated the 49ers in a 9-8 comeback win. Long Beach took advantage of the tired Tritons and led 3-1 in the first quarter. But a 3-0 scoring advantage in the second quarter gave the Tritons the lead going into halftime with the help of key saves by Randall, who had eight for the night.

“We were a bit worn out from the road trip, because we had a tough game against [UC Santa Barbara] the night before,” Randall said.

The 49ers made the most of their opportunities by scoring twice with a man advantage and eventually leading 7-5 going into the fourth quarter on a breakaway goal by junior attacker Nick Korsgaden.

After exchanging goals to start the fourth period, UCSD trailed with less than five minutes to play. Casellini, who led the team with five goals, put one past the keeper at the 3:49 mark to trim the lead to just one. With just 1:22 left in the game, Lackey scored both the tying and winning goals for the Tritons in a span of 22 seconds.

“They’re not that great, but we let them back in the game,” Randall said. “We realized that we needed the win so we found a way to get four goals.”

Even though Long Beach almost hung in for the upset, the 49ers’ loss drops their season record to 1-5.

UCSD will return home for a difficult game against No. 3 UCLA on Oct. 6.