Water Polo Falls to Stanford, Beats Concordia in Tourney

    With a nine-day rest from competition closing, the 13th-ranked UCSD men’s water polo team (6–5) traveled to Los Angeles to compete in UCLA’s prestigious SoCal Tournament on Oct. 1 and 2.

    Coming off a 20–10 victory over Chapman University on Sept. 23, the Tritons were one of 16 teams invited to the tournament. The competition hosts some of the country’s best teams, including the Triton’s first opponent, Stanford University (4-2). Despite the victory over Chapman, the team still had many defensive issues to deal with, as shown by their game against fourth-ranked Stanford on Saturday morning.

    UCSD went into the tournament riding a three-game winning streak, with victories over No. 19 Air Force, No. 16 Navy and the crushing victory over Chapman University. However, at the first sprint of the game it was clear the Tritons — even a new strategy and intense preparation — could not compete with the overwhelming strength of the Cardinal.

    Stanford scored the first three goals of the game and never looked back. The Cardinal had four players score three goals to lead the offensive, while the Tritons struggled to get going for much of the game.

    “We play the rest of the teams in the tournament during the regular season, except for Stanford,” head coach Denny Harper said. “We could not just seem to stop any aspect of their offense, whether it was counterattacks or front court offense, and before we knew it, it was halftime and we were down.”

    Sophomore utility Brian Donohoe and junior driver Graham Saber scored two goals apiece on power plays after Stanford penalties, but little else went the Tritons’ way. Stanford outswam the Tritons and consistently scored on fast break opportunities through the game. UCSD didn’t manage a significant offensive threat until garbage time in the fourth quarter when they were already down 18–7, with both teams playing reserve players.

    “We played well offensively, but we definitely took a few steps backwards,” Harper said.

    “[Stanford] is just better: big, strong, fast, full scholarship players. It’s tough for us to compete with that, but they just completely outplayed us.”

    After their drubbing at the hands of Stanford, UCSD was placed into the loser’s bracket and squared off against No. 17 Concordia later in the day. With only a few hours to rest and strategize between games, the Tritons had just enough gas to go head to head with the Eagles.

    When the game began, it seemed to be deja vu of their earlier game for the Tritons, as the Eagles scored the first two goals. However, the Tritons buckled down and came out strong in the second quarter, taking a 7–3 lead into halftime.

    Coach Harper attributed the team’s success to taking some time off practice before the tournament.

    “Resting worked out in our favor because we probably played one of our best games of the year against Concordia,” Harper said.

    Despite exhaustion from having to play only a few hours before, the Tritons sped past the Eagles in the pool and banged in fast break after fast break shot.

    “[Against Concordia] our game plan worked perfectly,” Harper said. “We wanted to outswim this team, grind it out, and sure enough, we just started wearing them out. They’re not an incredibly disciplined group: They’re very emotional, and we just had a really good team effort.”

    The hero of the game was junior goalkeeper David Morton, whose school record of 21 saves helped seal the game for the Tritons.

    UCSD finished off their round of action in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, beginning by facing off against No. 9 Pepperdine at 10:40 a.m. The last time the Tritons played the Waves was at the Triton Invitational on Sept. 5, where Pepperdine just squeaked past UCSD 12–10. The Tritons aim to finish the tournament with two more strong wins and spend the rest of the week resting in preparation for their match against No. 8 Cal State Long Beach this Friday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. at Canyon View Pool.

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