Water Polo Loses Four Straight

    The UC Irvine Invitational proved to be a bit unlucky for the UCSD women’s water polo team as it dropped all four of its away games over the weekend. The No. 14 Tritons fell to No. 16 University of Michigan and No. 19 Santa Clara University on Feb. 25 after suffering losses to No. 12 UC Santa Barbara and No. 5 UC Berkeley on Feb. 24.

    Sanh Luong/Guardian
    Senior middle driver Britta Nordstrom and the Triton team hit a bump in their season, suffering four losses at the UC Irvine Invitational on Feb. 24 and 25 to sit at 4-10 overall.

    “”The other teams didn’t beat us, we did,”” junior goalkeeper Kim Hockett said. “”We are a great team, and even with the losses this weekend, there were moments of brilliance that show the potential we have for the rest of the season ahead of us.””

    Though the Tritons failed to pull a win from the Wolverines, they kept the pressure on their opponents goal for goal, going back and forth to score and tie it back up through the entire first half.

    The game was tied 8-8 with six minutes left when UCSD gave the game over to the University Michigan, allowing them four quick goals and then giving up a final goal with 10 seconds left on the clock for the 8-13 loss.

    “”We just lost control and everyone started doubting and finally gave up,”” Hockett said.

    Senior middle driver Sarah Bajorek led the team in scoring that day, sweeping four goals past the Wolverines’ keeper. The win came as a bit of a surprise to the Tritons, who defeated the Wolverines 10-7 in the final game of the Triton Invitational on Feb. 11.

    “”The game really could have gone either way and Michigan just did a better job at capitalizing on their shot opportunities,”” head coach Larry Sanders said. “”The score did not reflect the effort.””

    The energy was extremely high in the game against Santa Clara University, which was the closest match of the weekend, as UCSD fell in overtime by a final score of 9-10. The Tritons got off to a slow start but caught back up in the second half to gain control of the game until overtime, when Santa Clara University nailed two quick goals to seal the win.

    Bajorek again had a strong hand in scoring with two goals, while junior two-meter Judy Eamus tallied an impressive four goals.

    “”As the weekend went on, the losses started adding up and you could feel it, that people were beginning to question themselves and the abilities of us as a team,”” Hockett said. “”I think that fact began to catch up with us at the end of games in the clutch moments that we should have had.””

    In the 5-8 loss to UC Santa Barbara, the teams were neck-and-neck through the first quarter, keeping it 1-1 until the Gauchos outscored the Tritons 5-2 in the second and third quarters.

    UC Santa Barbara then upped the gap to 6-3 in the fourth and the Tritons would never get closer than three goals for the rest of the game.

    Junior utility Lauren Woods scored twice for UCSD, while junior utility Nicole Hermann, senior two-meter Natalie Hockett and sophomore driver Sydney Gstettenbauer each tallied one goal apiece.

    The weekend started the way it ended for the Tritons, playing against a great team in UC Berkeley, but they were unable to put the points on the scoreboard to pull off an upset.

    The No. 5 Golden Bears came out strong from the start and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first quarter. UCSD narrowed the gap to 9-4 by the end of the third, but in the final stanza, UC Berkeley took charge by scoring five goals to close out the match with a 14-5 win.

    Bajorek led all scorers yet again with four goals, while Gstettenbauer made UCSD’s other goal, but all of the missed shots affected them more. During the game, the Tritons had 20 man-up opportunities but only scored on two of them.

    “”We are putting the effort forth but not getting the payoff,”” Sanders said.

    Coming off of four straight losses, the Tritons will look ahead to this weekend when they will get the support of a home crowd as they face No. 10 Loyola Marymount University on March 2 followed by what is sure to be a tough match against No.1 Stanford University on March 3.

    Hockett made a great analogy reflecting back on the past weekend’s events at UC Irvine.

    “”It’s like being a goalie: Sometimes when someone scores on you, it’s hard to instantly refocus and recover, and in that instant you are vulnerable because you need a second to just take a deep breath and let it go, and then you’re ready for the next shooter,”” Hockett said.

    “”That’s how it is for our team. It was a hard weekend and we just didn’t get that moment to take a breath, but now we have, and we can go into the games ahead of us this weekend and the rest of season ready and knowing that we can and will win.””

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