Tritons Take Two After Tough Loss

    ophomore two-meter offense Daniel Garcia scores one of his two goals in UCSD’s disappointing loss against No. 10 Loyola Marymount on Sept. 29. (Sanh Luong/Guardian)

    The No. 12 UCSD men’s water polo team bounced back from a 9-4 loss to Loyola Marymount University with convincing wins of 8-5 against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges and 17-7 over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges — two teams that the Tritons had easily beaten earlier this season.

    The Tritons played their best in the Sept. 29 match against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges with both offense and defense excelling for the first time in several games. Sophomore two-meter defender Steven Donohoe scored five goals and sophomore two-meter Daniel Garcia added four as UCSD continued its domination over Pomona-Pitzer.

    “We had two guys [Donohoe and Garcia] scoring that we expect to score in any game,” head coach Denny Harper said. “We played much more like ourselves.” Garcia and Donohoe are currently the Tritons’ first and third leading scorers, respectively.

    However, the Tritons did not play as well against Claremont, but they still overwhelmed the Stags to pick up the victory.

    “We were a little sluggish in the game,” Harper said. “It was tough coming back from the loss to [Loyola Marymount].”

    While their defense held up well, with freshman goalkeeper Adam Rule holding Claremont to only five goals, the Tritons’ offensive struggles from their game against Loyola Marymount continued. UCSD was only two for 11 on its six-on-five opportunities, playing poorly even when it had a one-man advantage. The drought on offensive didn’t sink the team, as the defense was able to hold off Claremont for the victory.

    A poor second-half showing ultimately cost the Tritons a win in a 9-4 loss against Loyola Marymount University in front of a packed home crowd. Although UCSD never led the Lions, it stayed in the game for the entire first half.

    The Lions scored the first goal less than one minute into the contest, forcing the Tritons to play from behind from the beginning. Garcia answered back with a goal on the Tritons’ transition offense, tying the game at 1-1.

    However, Loyola Marymount finished the last two minutes of the first quarter on a high note, converting on a six-on-five opportunity and lobbing a shot over Rule for a 3-1 lead. The Tritons had their own six-on-five opportunity when Lions’ driver Ryan Friar was ejected from the game, but the Tritons seemed hesitant to shoot the ball, ending the first quarter two goals behind the Lions.

    The Tritons’ opened up the second quarter with an outside goal from sophomore utility Sean Roberts. After a few minutes of tight defense from both sides, Donohoe tied the game at three with a goal from the flat. The Tritons followed that up with an outstanding possession on the defensive end, denying the Lions with two consecutive blocks.

    The Lions fought back at the end of the quarter, lobbing another goal over Rule with less than a minute left in the half to put UCSD in a 4-3 hole. In the last seconds of the first half, Roberts was ejected for the game while defending a last-second Lions attempt at the goal. The ejection would prove costly for the Tritons in the second half of the game.

    “We played well enough in the first half to stay in the ball game,” Harper said. “It hurt us that Roberts got majored at the end of the first half. That was a bummer for us in the second half.”

    The second half was an offensive nightmare for the Tritons. Garcia scored in the two-meter off of a dry pass from junior driver Chance Vermilyea to cut Loyola Marymount’s lead to 5-4. However, the Lions again strongly ended the quarter with two goals. They also held the Tritons scoreless, extending their lead to 7-4.

    The Tritons’ struggles continued in the fourth quarter as they failed to score in the final period of the game. The Lions then notched two more goals, making the final score 9-4.

    “It was a bad game for us,” senior two-meter Simon Schafer said. “It was a step back for the team. Nothing came together and we were playing nervous.”

    The Tritons’ young team played in front of a home crowd of over 1,500, their first large home crowd of the year.

    “The team just didn’t handle the crowd very well,” Harper said. “They’re a young team and I anticipate a different story in our next home game.”

    The Tritons’ next games come at home against No. 8 UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 5 and No. 7 Long Beach State at home on Oct. 6. UCSD lost close games to both of the ranked teams earlier in the season and hopes to have more success the second time around.

    “We have to produce on offense,” Schafer said. “Our defense has come a long way from the beginning of the season, but we need to be firing on all cylinders and put the ball away.”

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