Testing the Waters

The No. 19 UCSD women’s water polo team opened the season last weekend at the UCSB Winter Invitational. The Tritons went 3–1, taking wins against Santa Clara, Sonoma State and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, but falling to No. 17 Division-I Cal State Northridge on Saturday.

“We went 3-for-1, and that was pretty good,” junior Sarah Lizotte said. “But it definitely opened our eyes to what we need to work on. There were a lot of good things that I saw, and what we need to work on isn’t a matter of a lack of talent — just a matter of fine-tuning.”

The Tritons finished second in the WWPA tournament last season on the back of a very strong senior class — graduated All-Conference goalkeeper Allie Taylor and All-WWPA selection driver Kirsten Bates. Last year’s senior class claimed five of the seven spots in the starting lineup, with the exception of junior standouts Sarah Lizotte and Melissa Bartow or, alternately, Leah Gonzales.

Junior All-American Lizotte, who led the Tritons in the attack with a remarkable 91 goals last season, seems to be on track to top her 2012 record. The junior utility scored 13 goals this past weekend, even without seeing much time in the fourth game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

UCSD also got some quality minutes out of sophomore Rachel Brooks — last season’s All-WWPA freshman of the year — while Bartow and Gonzales both had solid performances in Santa Barbara.

This season, UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp has brought on 10 exciting new recruits. Freshman attacker Julia Kirkland and Alexis Wieseler both earned hat-tricks in their respective debuts as Tritons. Defensively, freshman Courtney Miller will likely take up the mantle as goalkeeper. The newcomer fared favorably, coming up with 25 saves in her four games.

“We have a strong freshman class,” Lizotte said. “They help our team a lot. There are a lot of good outside shooters, and what they do is they make us deeper than what we were last year. It’s so nice that we can rotate our whole starting lineup.”? With the 3–1 record, the Tritons are currently ranked No. 1 in the WWPA, right in front of 2012 champion Loyola Marymount (3–3). The Tritons’ next pair of games will be played at home at the Canyonview Aquatics Center on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 for the Triton Invitational. It has yet to be announced who UCSD will face in the tournament.

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