UCSD Dominates in Front of Home Crowd

    Kevin Wu / Guardian File

    With the stadium packed with screaming fans following a tailgate at Warren Field, the Tritons were cheered on by students who had just finished their first day of classes. The UCSD men’s water polo team didn’t disappoint as they blew away the visiting team from Chapman University.

    The 14th-ranked Tritons never trailed en route to a 20–10 victory on Sept. 23 at Canyon View Pool. Backed by a near-capacity crowd of 1,492, sophomore Brian Donohoe led the way with six goals, and the Tritons went to 6-5 overall on the season.

    Donohoe indicated that the large crowd factored into the win.

    “Very few of us have ever played in front of a crowd like that,” Donohoe said in an interview with the UCSD Athletics Department. “That’s the most people I’ve ever played in front of. It’s a pretty crazy feeling seeing all those fans and knowing they are all there to cheer you on. It gets you really fired up for the game.”

    The Tritons struck first, with goals from seniors Bryce Madsen and Dane Sequeira giving UCSD an early 2–0 lead. But the Panthers battled through the first quarter and tied the score at 3–3 late in the period.

    Madsen added another goal to pull ahead 4–3 with 1:46 left in the first quarter. A penalty by one of the Panther players allowed the Tritons to play six-on-five for the remainder of the period, and the Tritons took advantage of the opportunity to pull ahead of Chapman and take a 6–4 lead.

    After Madsen scored early in the second quarter, UCSD took a 7–5 lead. The Tritons showed no mercy for the Panthers as they went on to score seven unanswered goals, taking a 14–5 lead.

    The Panthers ended the Tritons’ streak with two minutes left in the third quarter, and managed to skip three goals past junior goalkeeper David Morton. But the Panthers could not close the six-point closer for the remainder of the game.

    In the fourth quarter, the Tritons maintained their level of dominance, and racked up another six goals on their outmatched opponents. The Tritons finished out the game with Donohoe scoring six goals and Madsen adding five of his own. Redshirt junior Graham Saber was the Tritons third-leading scorer with three goals.

    Madsen scored his 50th goal as a Triton in the match, while Morton recorded his 80th block of the season. Sophomore John Butler added two goals for his ninth and 10th career scores. The Tritons scored their highest number of goals in one match since their 24–8 match against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in 2008.

    With the loss, unranked Chapman dropped to 3–4 on the season.

    Despite the big win, head coach Denny Harper was unhappy with his team’s defensive play.

    “You can well imagine I’m not happy about giving up 10 goals,” Harper said in an interview with the UCSD Athletics Department. “We were dysfunctional and goofy at best, defensively. Let’s face it: If we play this way at any of our other home games, wins are going to be difficult to get.”

    The Tritons allowed 10 or more goals for the fourth time this season. Each of the previous three games were losses to ranked opponents, as the Tritons fell to University of Pacific, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis.

    The Tritons have a packed schedule ahead of them and look to rise up the rankings past their 14th place position — three lower than where they started season. The Tritons next travel to the SoCal Tournament on Oct. 2 to Oct. 3 and will open play against fourth-ranked Stanford University in the two-day competition.

    Harper said  the tournament will be a significant test that will showcase the team’s progress at this point in the season.

    “It will be a defining moment,” Harper said. “We can’t keep making individual mistakes, team mistakes. We still have pairings in the pool defensively that aren’t on the same page. It should be an interesting tournament for us; it always is.”

    Readers can contact Tyler Nelson at [email protected].

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