Tritons Take Down Conference Foes

    Junior utility Sean Roberts was one of seven Tritons to score during their loss to No. 3 UCLA on Nov. 9. UCSD won both of its other games over the weekend. (Emma Quan/Guardian File)

    MEN’S WATER POLO — The No. 8 Tritons had encouraging performances in their last three regular-season games before the Western Water Polo Association Championships. UCSD took care of business against two conference rivals on the road, overcoming a sluggish start against No. 11 UC Davis to post a 9-6 victory on Nov. 7 before turning around quickly with a 13-9 win over No. 15 Santa Clara University on Nov. 8. In their final game of the regular season, the Tritons put up a strong effort against powerhouse No. 3 UCLA but came up short, falling to the Bruins 11-8 on Nov. 9 in Los Angeles.

    In their previous matchup with the Bruins this season, the Tritons held the lead before falling 12-9 on Oct. 11. The second matchup between the two teams looked to be a UCLA blowout as the Bruins jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first half before senior driver Jeff Hunt netted a score to cut the UCLA lead to a manageable two goals at the half.

    The Tritons kept pace with the Bruins in the third quarter with each team scoring three times in the period. The fourth quarter proved to be UCSD’s undoing as UCLA came out firing with three unanswered goals, putting the Tritons in a 10-5 hole. The Tritons added three goals of their own in the period but were unable to dig themselves out. Despite the loss, the Tritons spread the ball well on offense with seven players scoring — an encouraging sight for a team about to compete in the postseason.

    “It says that a lot of people are stepping up and with the postseason coming up, you can’t have just a few people scoring,” junior two-meter defender Peter Gresham said.

    UCSD faced off against conference opponent Santa Clara University for the first time this season in the Broncos’ new aquatic facility. The Tritons used a big game from junior two-meter Daniel Garcia to top Santa Clara 13-9. Garcia, who was named WWPA Player of the Week, led the Tritons with a whopping six goals.

    “Daniel Garcia is a scoring machine,” Gresham said. “If you give him the ball and he has a second, he’ll put it in the back of the cage.”

    Senior driver Adnan Jerkovic also had a big game as his three assists gave him the program record for single-season assists.

    “My role on the team is pretty well defined,” Jerkovic said. “You can think of me as like the point guard in basketball terms — a lot of plays go through me and I’m fortunate enough to be playing with great scorers.”

    Starting off the weekend, UCSD traveled up to Davis to face the Aggies in their second matchup this year. The Triton offense had nothing going on in the early minutes, and it was unable to score the entire first period. UCSD came back in the second quarter to tie the score at three by halftime.

    “The slow start was due in part to us not executing on offense but it was mainly due to Davis playing good defense in front of their home crowd,” Jerkovic said.

    With 5:54 left in the third period, UC Davis regained the lead but, from then on it was all Tritons. Senior utility A.J. Kotanjian and Jerkovic each scored in the period, and the Tritons added four more in the final quarter to top the Aggies.

    The two conference wins were crucial for the Tritons with the WWPA Championships coming up Nov. 21 through Nov. 23.

    “We took care of business setting up the best possible situation with the two wins,” Jerkovic said.

    The Tritons will face Sunset San Diego in an exhibition game on Nov. 15 at 12 p.m. at Canyonview Pool.

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