Ranked Teams Wreak Havoc on UCSD at Home

    Sophomore two-meter Daniel Garcia scores one of his five goals against UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 5. Despite Garcia’s goals, No. 12 UCSD fell to the No. 8 Gauchos 13-10 and after another loss on Oct. 6 are 9-8. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)

    Struggles at home continued for the No. 12 UCSD men’s water polo team as the Tritons took two tough home losses over the weekend. UCSD lost to No. 8 UC Santa Barbara by a score of 13-10 on Oct. 5, and dropped another close contest to No. 7 Long Beach State by a score of 12-10 on Oct. 6. The two losses drop UCSD’s record to 9-8, including a surprising 2-5 mark in home games, where the Tritons have lost five straight games after opening the season with two home wins.

    The Tritons started out well against Long Beach State, with sophomore two-meter Daniel Garcia scoring on the first UCSD possession to take an early lead. The 49ers quickly answered with three straight goals, aided by a UCSD ejection as well as a five-meter penalty shot.

    The Tritons scored on their first possession of the second quarter as well, with sophomore two-meter defender Steven Donohoe scoring another UCSD six-on-five goal to tie the game at three. UCSD’s transition defense struggled, unable to stop Long Beach State’s two counterattack goals that made their lead 5-3.

    Garcia added another goal before halftime, but defensive mistakes by the Tritons allowed Long Beach State to take an 8-4 lead going into the intermission.

    “We had a soft first half of the game with not a lot of intensity,” junior utility Sidd Menon said.

    The Tritons picked up their intensity in the second half, playing tighter defense and capitalizing on Long Beach State’s defensive mistakes. Sophomore utility Sean Roberts opened the scoring in the second half with a six-on-five goal for the Tritons. Donohoe added another six-on-five goal and a five-meter penalty goal in the quarter. The 49ers closed the quarter with another counterattack score, extending their lead to 11-7.

    UCSD played well in the fourth quarter, cutting the Long Beach State lead to 12-10 with less than two minutes left in the game. The Tritons had another six-on-five opportunity to pull within one goal of the 49ers but UCSD was unable to convert, sealing the win for Long Beach State.

    UCSD struggled in the goal with freshmen goalkeepers Mark Stemler and Adam Rule each playing one half of the game.

    “Myself and our other goalkeeper [Rule] didn’t play our best,” Stemler said. “We missed some shots that we should have gotten.”

    The Tritons played another tough game against a ranked opponent on Oct. 5 as they hosted UCSB, a team that they had suffered a 10-8 loss to earlier in the season. The two teams played a very tight game for the first half with strong play from Stemler, who returned from injury to start the game.

    The Tritons played effective defense, stealing the ball from UCSB’s two-meter with consistency and disrupting the Gaucho offense in the first half. With three minutes left in the first half, Garcia scored one of his three first-half goals to give UCSD a 4-3 lead. UCSB answered back with two goals to enter halftime with their first lead of the game.

    The Tritons continued strong play in the second half with many key blocks from Stemler and goals from Donohoe, Garcia, sophomore utility Peter Gresham and senior driver Curtis Williamson. With four minutes left in the game and UCSB leading 12-10, the Tritons had a golden opportunity to close the gap with two straight five-meter penalty shots. But they were unable to score on either five-meter shot and the Gauchos scored an easy counterattack goal to win the game by a final score of 13-10.

    Even though the Tritons suffered the loss to UCSB, the UCSD players thought they did well against a tough opponent for most of the game.

    “We played pretty well,” Stemler said. “It was one of the better games that we played this year. We did everything we were supposed to.”

    The Tritons will face another tough team at the Southern California Tournament in Irvine as they open the event against No. 6 UC Irvine on Oct. 13.

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