UCSD Back on Track With Wins Over East Bay and Brown

    WOMEN’S WATER POLO — The UCSD women’s water polo team has been busy the past three weeks, playing nine matches in that time.

    The No. 18 Tritons played conference rival Cal State Bakersfield on Friday, March 11. With the glare of the Aztec Invitational the next day, the Tritons played admirably and came out of the water with a 14-11 victory. The game was a rematch of the last game the Tritons played —the final game of the UC Irvine Invitational on Feb. 27 — in which the Tritons won 13-10. In the rematch, the Tritons and Roadrunners traded goals for much of the game as neither team led by more than two for the first three quarters of the game. However, with a series of steals and by taking advantage of fast break opportunities, the Tritons pulled away in the fourth quarter to go 5-1 in conference play.

    “This is a big win for us because it means we won’t have to see Bakersfield until well into the [WWPA] tournament,” head coach Brad Kreutzkamp said. “Our counterattack in the third and fourth quarters is what really helped us pull away in this game.”

    The next day after their game against Bakersfield, the Tritons traveled across town to partake in the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State from March 12-13. The Tritons took on Princeton in the first match of the morning at 7 a.m., and the wear and tear from the night before showed, as the Triton defense was slow to stop the Tigers from scoring at will. Both teams traded goals throughout the game, as the game ended in regulation with a 10-10 draw.

    In overtime, both teams continued to trade goals, as the Tritons and Tigers scored twice to keep the score tied after the first overtime period. In the second overtime period, the rules change to golden goal, meaning that whoever scored first wins outright. Princeton managed a goal before the Tritons could and took the match.

    After the falling to unranked Princeton, the Tritons lost in more lopsided games to No. 20 ranked Pacific 6-9, No. 16 Cal State Northridge 6-9 and No. 17 Indiana 4-9 to finish out the Aztec Invite. After the consecutive losses, the Tritons fell out of the rankings, but fortunately, no losses were against conference opponents and it will not affect UCSD’s position in the conference championship.

    After taking finals week off and spending spring break practicing, the Tritons flew to Hawaii March 25-26 to take on perennial powerhouses No. 11 San Diego State and No. 5 Hawaii, and also faced off against conference opponent Cal State East Bay. Though keeping it close against the Aztecs, the Tritons fell to their more aggressive adversary 10-6, and were blown out of the water by the Warriors 13-4.

    The Tritons were mired in a six-game losing streak, and were looking to notch a victory to kick them out of their lull. They found their chance going up against Cal State East Bay, their closest competition to the second seed in the conference. To begin the match, the Tritons scored five unanswered goals and never looked back. They pulled to a 5-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the match, before the Pioneers scored with just under a minute in the first quarter. Both teams traded goals in the second quarter to leave the score at 6-2 to end the first half.

    The Triton scoring slowed in the second half, but they played lights out defense and matched Cal State East Bay goal for goal, rolling through the second half of a critical conference game. The win moved the Tritons to 6-1 in conference and 9-14 overall, and helped keep the Tritons ahead of Cal State East Bay in the standings.

    “At this point it’s all about putting yourself in the best position come the tournament,” Kreutzkamp said.

    UCSD moved back to No. 20 in the rankings with the win and took the momentum into Friday’s match against unranked Brown University. The Tritons jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after the first quarter, and went into the half with a 7-4 lead. Brown closed the gap to 7-5, early in the third quarter, but UCSD still went into the fourth quarter with an 11-6 advantage.

    But the Bears came out hot in fourth quarter, and scored twice to trail 11-8 with three minutes left. But UCSD didn’t allow another score until 49 seconds remaining, and held on for the win despite not scoring in the final stanza.

    The Tritons also took on Fresno Pacific and No. 9 Arizona State on Sunday at Canyonview Pool. Full coverage will be available in Thursday’s issue of The Guardian.

    Readers can contact Tyler Nelson at [email protected].


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