Hat Trick Weekend

    With three wins over conference opponents last weekend, the No. 20 UCSD women’s water polo team guaranteed itself the second seed in the Western Water Polo Association Championships at the end of April.

    The Tritons defeated Santa Clara (9-8), Colorado State University (10-6) and Cal State San Bernardino (11-6) at The Bronco held at Santa Clara University. The Tritons improved their record to 9-1 in conference play to take the second seed behind No. 8 Loyola Marymount University.

    “We went up there knowing that we had three big conference games,” head coach Brad Kreutzkamp said. “We had one loss [in conference] going into that weekend, and we knew that if we went 1-2 or 0-3, we could slide right out of the two spot, and have some trouble at the conference championships. So we tried hard at those three games.”

    The Tritons traveled to Santa Clara to take part in The Bronco, a tournament featuring mostly schools from California, and left with a 3-1 weekend record. The Tritons lost their first match to No. 7 San Jose State University, but recovered nicely to win the remaining three games.

    In their first match, the Tritons once again struggled against a ranked opponent. Despite the first of four hat tricks on the weekend from freshman utility Sarah Lizotte, the Tritons fell to 7-2 at halftime and the deficit was too much to overcome. Though they played stronger defense in the second half, the Tritons did not generate the offense to stage a comeback, and fell to 0-15 this year against ranked opponents.

    Later on Saturday, the Tritons had a rematch against Santa Clara; UCSD scored a 12-10 decision earlier this season at Canyonview. The Broncos took an early lead in a low-scoring first half, holding a 3-2 halftime lead. But the Tritons came back and scored consecutive goals in the third quarter to take their first lead before Santa Clara could reply with a goal of their own to the even the score at 4-4. In the fourth quarter, both teams scored back and forth until the score stood at 7-6 in favor of Santa Clara with just under a minute to play. When UCSD seemed to be running out of options, Lizotte stepped up and scored her third goal of the night to force overtime.

    Santa Clara struck first and early and held a one-goal lead throughout the extra period. With 43 seconds remaining on the clock, freshman hole set Melissa Bartow scored to force sudden death overtime. In sudden death overtime, senior attacker Felicia Orozco was the first person to find the back of the net for either team and drilled home the 9-8 overtime victory for the Tritons.

    “We started off against San Jose State which was ranked seventh in the nation,” Kreutzkamp said. “And to come back against Santa Clara, I was really happy with how we pulled out that sudden death victory.”

    In their first game on Sunday, the Tritons played a competitive match against Colorado State University. Playing at 8 a.m., the Tritons came out snoozing and fell into an early 4-2 hole at halftime. In the past, the Tritons have struggled when playing from behind, but they pulled together and shut out the Rams in the third quarter while scoring four of their own.

    Lizotte again went on the rampage, scoring three goals to lead the way for the Tritons.

    “We’ve put her in a spot in the pool where she is able to either drive and sit in front of the cage and do what she can do naturally, or drop back on Bates and Melissa; she takes those outside shots,” Kreutzkamp said. “We put her in that role position.”

    After the Tritons took advantage in the third quarter, they held their lead and refused to allow the Rams back into the contest, outscoring Colorado State 4-2 in the fourth quarter and swimming with the 10-6 victory.

    “We came back in two of our games, against Santa Clara and Colorado State,” Kreutzkamp said. “I wish I had a magical answer for how I get them to come back. It requires a lot of pushing and trying to get them fired up. We make some adjustments, but a lot of our game plan all year has been to soften up our opponents early. We’re really tiring them out, because a lot of times we can just outlast the other team.”

    On Sunday, the Tritons handily defeated Cal State San Bernardino. Lizotte — who is taking a larger role as the season progresses — scored three goals in the game and senior attacker Hanalei Crowell matched the effort with three goals of her own. UCSD took advantage early, with a 3-2 first quarter lead and never looked back, as the Coyotes trailed the whole game. The Tritons swam away with the 11-6 victory and their guaranteed spot in conference.

    The Tritons stand at 14-16 overall and have only two games left to play in the regular season before the conference tournament. UCSD’s senior day will be Saturday, April 16 at noon at Canyonview Pool against Michigan, and it will be the team’s last home game of the year. The Tritons will then travel to take on local rival San Diego State Friday, April 22.

    Readers can contact Tyler Nelson at [email protected].


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