Tritons Crumble in Second Half

MEN’S WATER POLO — For the second time in a week, the No. 10 Tritons found themselves up 5-1 at home only to end up with a loss. In a game similar to the matchup against No. 6 Loyola Marymount University one week earlier, UCSD could not hold on to a commanding first-half lead against No. 8 UC Irvine on Oct. 3, eventually falling to the Anteaters by a score of 10-8. The loss brings the Tritons’ record to 11-4 on the season.

UCSD came out looking fresh against the Anteaters despite earning a hard-fought 12-10 victory over No. 7 Cal State Long Beach the night before. Senior driver Adnan Jerkovic, who scored four first-half goals, and junior two-meter Daniel Garcia, who added two of his own, led the Tritons. UCSD’s straight press on defense and impressive play from freshman goalkeeper David Morton held off UC Irvine’s two-meter play to give UCSD a 6-3 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was downright ugly for the Tritons, with their defense completely crumbling and their six-on-five offense ineffective. UC Irvine dominated the physical play inside in the third quarter.
“We put too much in the fact that we were winning in the first half,” senior driver Chance Vermilyea said. “Personally, I think that everyone felt the game was over.”

The Anteaters opened the second half with seven unanswered goals until junior two-meter defender Steven Donohoe scored on a penalty shot with 4:12 left in regulation. UCSD added another goal but it was too little, too late for the Tritons.

Offensively, the Tritons had major struggles with their man-up offense, with their only six-on-five goal coming in the last two minutes of regulation.

“It’s bad enough that we went one for nine on six-on-five opportunities, but they scored three times off of our six-on-five,” Harper said. “That’s as bad as it gets.”

After building a 6-3 lead in the first half of a game against UC Irvine, the Tritons were outscored 7-2 in the second half to spoil their efforts at an upset over the No. 8 Anteaters.

The loss came after UCSD went on the road to beat Cal State Long Beach for the first time this season. Of the Tritons’ four losses this season, two of them came at the hands of the 49ers.

“It was an awesome team win that took all of our players to get that out,” senior driver Sidd Menon said. “The loss [against UC Irvine] killed it a little bit for us.”

Even though Harper acknowledged the difficulty of playing back-to-back games against ranked opponents, he was baffled as to why the Tritons continue to give up significant leads.
“We’re not sure what’s happening, we just spent a fair amount of time talking about what was going on,” he said.

According to Menon, UCSD may have an opportunity for redemption when the Tritons take part in the Southern California Tournament in Los Angeles on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. The Tritons will face Cal State Long Beach in the first round of the tournament.

“If we beat Long Beach there’s a good chance we will face UC Irvine or LMU in the tournament,” he said.