Tritons Run Up the Score at Home

    The Tritons were able to tap into their bench and play 14 players in their game against UC Santa Cruz on Nov. 2 after they jumped out to a 12-3 lead at halftime. Out of the 14 players who saw action in the contest, 12 Tritons scored goals to help top the Banana Slugs 19-8. (John Hanacek/Guardian)

    MEN’S WATER POLO — After falling to ranked opponents on the road in one-goal games, the No. 8 UCSD men’s water polo team returned home and crushed two Western Water Polo Association opponents in a double-header on Nov. 2. The squad took care of business against UC Santa Cruz, dealing the Banana Slugs a 19-8 beating in the morning before posting a 13-6 victory over Pomona-Pitzer College.

    “We were trying accomplish two big wins against teams that aren’t at our level to prove that we are the better team,” senior utility A.J. Kotanjian said.

    UCSD asserted its superiority over Pomona-Pitzer College early in the game, scoring seven goals during the first quarter. The Sagehens were able to answer back in the second quarter, outscoring the Tritons 3-1 in the period to cut UCSD’s lead to 8-3 at halftime.

    Even though the game was not close in the second half, tempers flared on both sides because of the whistle-happy referees, who were eager to charge ejections to Tritons and Sagehens alike. Still, UCSD held on to a commanding lead for the entire game, eventually netting the 13-6 victory.

    In the first game of the day, the Banana Slugs had few answers to the Triton attack, falling behind 12-3 after the first two quarters. Because of their dominant first half, the Tritons were able to give a lot of minutes to nonstarters in the second half of the game. Junior goalkeeper Daniel Ramirez minded the net for the entire second half, relieving freshman goalkeeper David Morton. Junior driver Kneif Lohse and freshman driver Graham Saber stood out for UCSD, scoring the Tritons’ last two goals of the game.

    “It was good for them to be able to get some more game experience,” Kotanjian said of the players off the Triton bench. “They held their own.”

    With the Tritons having a real chance at the conference crown, the wins over WWPA opponents were crucial because the seeding for the conference championships will decide who the Tritons will have to battle before they can reach the championship game. The two wins boost UCSD’s WWPA record to 4-3 and overall record to 16-9.

    “There are a number of things we are working on in our push to conference,” head coach Denny Harper said. “Pomona and Santa Cruz represent the bottom half of our conference and while we are not trying to annihilate teams, we can’t sacrifice where we want to go.”

    Junior two-meter Daniel Garcia had a team-high nine goals on the day while senior driver Jeff Hunt and Kotanjian added four apiece.

    UCSD will close out its conference schedule next weekend on the road against UC Davis on Nov. 7 and Santa Clara University on Nov. 8. The two matchups will undoubtedly be more challenging than UCSD’s games on Sunday.

    “Those two games have large WWPA implications toward the seeding of the tournament,” head coach Denny Harper said. “We played Davis once this season and beat them at home, but if you go 1-1 with a team the most recent game is what counts for seeding.”

    The Tritons will face a Santa Clara team that holds an impressive 8-3 WWPA record this season and is playing in a new pool in which UCSD has never competed.

    “While we are excited to play in Santa Clara’s brand new 50-meter pool, this is the only time we play them this season so it’s an important game,” Harper said.

    Capping off a busy weekend, UCSD will face No. 3 UCLA on Nov. 9 in a nonconference game. The two teams faced off earlier this season in the Southern California Tournament on Oct. 11 in which the Tritons fell to the Bruins 12-9 after being tied at halftime.

    “We’re going up there trying to get an upset,” Kotanjian said.

    The game against UCLA will be the last of the Tritons’ regular season. UCSD will face Sunset San Diego in an exhibition game on Nov. 15 before heading to Claremont, Calif., for the WWPA Championships on Nov. 21-23.

    Junior two-meter defender Peter Gresham looks for an outlet to pass the ball in UCSD’s game against UC Santa Cruz on Nov. 2. Gresham was one of four Tritons who recorded multiple goals in the contest. (John Hanacek/Guardian)
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