Triton Water Polo Falls to UC Davis, Beats Santa Clara in Weekend Matches

    John Hanacek / Guardian

    MEN’S WATER POLO — Men’s water polo played two strong games over the weekend against two of Northern California’s top teams, but came away with mixed results. The No. 9 Tritons lost to then 11th-ranked UC Davis in a close match that ended 6-5 on Friday, but came back fighting the next day to beat No. 11 Santa Clara 10-7.

    Against Davis, the Tritons played  a defensive battle, with each team finding goals hard to come by. The first period saw a goal within the first three minutes through a successful counterattack by the Aggies. Sophomore utility Brian Donohoe was able to tie it up just before the clock ran out for the period.

    “Both teams played very physical and covered on the counter well, so it turned into a front court battle both ways,” Donohoe said. “When you’re playing from behind in a game like that, it’s tough to get consecutive goals and get it rolling like that, especially on the road. We gave ourselves opportunities to win the game but didn’t really capitalize on enough of those to pull it out.”

    At the start of the second quarter, redshirt junior driver Graham Saber put UCSD up 2-1 with a goal from two meters out, but his score was swiftly negated by a long shot by Davis’s Walter Eggert that again tied the game. Despite another goal by Donohoe, the Aggies continued to bring a lot of physical power to the pool and the teams went into halftime with the game at 4-3.

    “The refs were consistent both ways, but they were allowing for almost a wrestling match,” Donohoe said. “Man for man, they are probably bigger than we are; we don’t have the biggest team and we do rely on our speed.”

    Both teams scored two more goals in the third quarter with scores by Donohoe and senior driver Bryce Madsen. The Aggies were able to hold the Tritons at that 6-5 score despite three attempts by Donohoe and a final possession with 24 seconds on the clock.

    “We don’t like losing, but yesterday at Davis was a really good water polo game,” head coach Denny Harper said. “Davis is a really, really difficult place to play at. But I was pleased with how hard we played yesterday, and even in defeat you get a general sense of ‘Oh boy, UCSD is improving and getting better.’”

    Playing the next day against Santa Clara, the team was able to bounce back and snap a two-match losing streak. The Tritons started strong with a goal in the first minute, and never trailed en route to the victory. The first quarter showed a 4-2 lead for UCSD, but the Tritons extended their lead to 8-4 by the end of the third quarter.

    The Broncos tried to come back in the fourth quarter with two early goals, but the Tritons were able to hold on and end the game 10-7.

    “This was Santa Clara’s only game this weekend and it was their homecoming alumni weekend,” Harper said. “So if you kind of couple the two things together, in that we also responded from a tough defeat by playing so well today, I think that’s a really good sign.”

    The Tritons head back to Canyonview Pool at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 23 against the No. 10-ranked Loyola Marymount University.

    “[Santa Clara] was a big conference game and we knew we needed to win, we knew we had to come out strong,” Madsen said. “We feel good, we feel like we finished business, and we’re looking forward to LMU this Saturday.”

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