Tritons Falter Late for Fourth Straight Loss

Sophomore two-meter offense Daniel Garcia scored against Loyola Marymount University on Oct. 27, but it wasn’t enough as the Tritons fell by a score of 9-4. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)

After a week of disrupted practices due to the San Diego fires, the No.
14 UCSD men’s water polo team faced No. 10 Loyola Marymount University on Oct.
27 in its final game against a Western Water Polo Association opponent before
the conference championships from Nov. 16 through Nov. 18. The Tritons started
the game strongly, but fell behind in the second half to take the 9-4 loss,
which dropped their record to 10-13 for the season.

The Tritons were unable get into a pool to practice Monday,
Tuesday and Wednesday last week because the air quality was deemed unhealthy,
and the team’s rustiness was evident in its loss.

“For the first part of the week, we couldn’t do anything,”
senior two-meter Simon Schafer said. “LMU offered us pool time, but the
northbound I-5 was closed. We made the decision to drive up on Thursday morning
to practice at LMU.”

The Tritons practiced at Loyola Marymount University for
three days leading up to the game.

The game began well for the Tritons with junior driver
Chance Vermilyea opening up the game’s scoring with a counterattack goal midway
through the first quarter. However, the Lions answered with 1 minute, 47
seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game.

The Lions carried their momentum into the second quarter,
scoring and putting UCSD in a 3-1 hole. The Tritons responded with a goal from
sophomore two-meter Daniel Garcia to keep the game close, trailing Loyola
Marymount by just one goal going into halftime.

The third quarter proved to be the game’s deciding period as
the Lions scored three unanswered goals in the quarter to take a 6-2 lead,
putting UCSD in an ultimately insurmountable hole.

According to Schafer, the Lions pulled away by making the
most of several costly errors by the Tritons.

“There were just a few minutes in the third quarter where we
went from being down by one goal to being down by four goals,” he said. “We
made a series of mistakes and [LMU] took advantage of its opportunities while
we didn’t capitalize on ours.”

The Tritons added scores from sophomore utility Ian Bausback
and Schafer in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough for UCSD as Loyola
Marymount scored three more times in the period to give the Lions a 9-4 win.

The Tritons struggled on their six-on-five opportunities
throughout the game, converting on only one of eight chances.

Their limited pool time for the week may have had an effect
on the Tritons’ poor man-up play.

“We weren’t able to practice any water polo plays early in
the week,” Bausback said. “We couldn’t work on our 6-on-5 man-up offense, which
hurt us.”

In addition to hindering UCSD’s ability to work on its
plays, the fires’ impacts stole some of the Tritons’ momentum from their strong
game against UC Davis the previous week.

The Tritons hoped to return to Canyonview Pool on Oct. 28 for
practice, but were still awaiting approval regarding air quality.

UCSD will face No. 4 UCLA at home on Nov. 3 in its first of
three games against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponents before the
WWPA championships. After their game against UCLA, the Tritons will be on the
road against No. 9 UC Irvine on Nov. 7 and No. 5 Pepperdine University on Nov.
10.

“I think [the game against UCLA] is going to be a great
opportunity to come together and eliminate some of our mistakes,” Bausback
said. “We’re excited to play UCLA and other high-caliber team MPSF teams.”

Even though the Tritons will be using these three games as
preparation for the WWPA championships, they are also looking to get back on
the winning track and end their four-game skid.

“We are capable of mounting an attack on a great team like
UCLA and we’re not going to back down,” Schafer said. “We’re not expecting to
lose.”

After hosting No. 4 UCLA on
Nov. 3, the Tritons will not get a break from ranked opponents as they
finish the regular season. They will take to the road for their final two games
aginst No. 9 UC Irvine on Nov. 7 and No. 5 Pepperdine on Nov. 10.

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