UC Davis Drowns UCSD in OT

    Sophomore two-meter defense Steven Donahoe looks past a defender, eyeing an opportunity near the goal during UCSD’s 8-9 overtime loss to UC Davis on Oct. 19. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)

    The UCSD men’s water polo season has been filled with close
    losses at home, and the game against No. 10 UC Davis on Oct. 19 was no
    exception. The No. 14 Tritons fought hard against the Aggies but came up just
    short, falling 9-8 in overtime. The loss gives the team a 10-12 season record.
    And with high-ranked opponents looming in their upcoming contests, bringing
    their record to an even .500 will be a challenge for the Tritons.

    The first quarter of the game against UC Davis was more of a
    swim meet than a water polo game, with numerous turnovers and neither team
    having much success putting the ball in the goal. UC Davis scored first on a
    goal from its two meter, but junior driver Chance Vermilyea answered back for
    UCSD with a lob goal off of the Tritons’ counterattack, evening the score at
    1-1.

    Defense took over the game early, as both teams were quick
    enough to crash the two-meters without committing to a drop. The Tritons also
    had success on their man-down defense as they were able to stop UC Davis on its
    three 6-on-5 opportunities with a few field blocks and a good stop from
    freshman goalkeeper Mark Stemler.

    Head coach Denny Harper had some rare praise for Stemler and
    freshman goalkeeper Adam Rule, who split playing time against the Aggies.

    “One problem we’ve had all season is consistently poor play
    from our goalies,” head coach Denny Harper said. “But Stemler and Rule played
    really well this game. They were outstanding.”

    The opening minutes of the second quarter were much like the
    first quarter’s play, as both teams were held scoreless. With 4:35 left in the
    half, UC Davis opened up the scoring on a counterattack goal and added another
    goal shortly after on a 6-on-5 opportunity.

    The Tritons scored on their own 6-on-5 opportunity during
    the ensuing possession with sophomore two-meter Daniel Garcia scoring from the
    deep wing to cut the UC Davis lead to 3-2. With one minute left in the half,
    the Aggies added another goal to grab a 4-2 lead at halftime.

    The Tritons came out strong in the second half, scoring on
    another counterattack goal from Vermilyea in the first minute. UCSD continued
    its strong defense and was able to keep UC Davis scoreless in the quarter by
    forcing several turnovers. With two minutes left in the third quarter, senior
    driver Curtis Williamson tied the game with a goal from the flat to even the
    score at 4-4.

    Sophomore utility Peter Gresham said that the Tritons’
    consistent effort throughout the game allowed them to pull close to the Aggies.

    “We had a lot of intensity and we kept it going throughout
    the entire game,” Gresham said. “We played together as a team.”

    The teams continued their tight back-and-forth play
    throughout the fourth quarter. Garcia, sophomore two-meter defender Steven
    Donohoe and senior driver Benjamin Miller added goals for the Tritons to make
    the score 7-6 with less than two minutes left in the quarter. With 1:41 left in
    regulation, UC Davis senior utility Nick Arrigo scored the tying goal to send
    the game into overtime.

    Defense was, once again, the main focus in the first
    three-minute overtime period. The Tritons and Aggies had one 6-on-5 opportunity
    apiece, but both were unable to score. With 14 seconds left in the period, UC
    Davis scored a goal from the deep wing to take an 8-7 lead.

    The Aggies scored another quick goal in the second overtime
    period for a two-goal lead. Williamson responded by scoring with 54 seconds
    left in the period to close within one of the Aggies. UCSD got the ball back
    with 36 seconds remaining, but was unable to convert.

    Despite the loss, the game was the Tritons’ best showing
    against UC Davis this season. UCSD faced UC Davis twice early in its 2007
    season, resulting in losses for the Tritons with scores of 11-7 and 13-7 in
    regulation.

    Harper said that his squad is improving and has met his
    expectations.

    “This season has gone just the way I predicted,” Harper
    said. “We’ll get better and I don’t think Davis will … UC Davis has been the
    frontrunner in our conference and we nearly knocked them off.”

    The Tritons will travel to UC Irvine to face the No. 9
    Anteaters on Oct. 26, and will face No. 7 Loyola Marymount University on Oct.
    27. Since UC Irvine is not in the Western Water Polo Association, UCSD plans to
    use the game against the Anteaters to get ready for the WWPA championships
    coming up on Nov. 16 through 18. The Tritons are looking to defend the WWPA
    title that they won last year over Loyola Marymount University.

    “We’re right there with five or six teams that could win the
    conference title,” Harper said. “I like where we’re at right now.”

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