Back to the Dance

The field of eight teams for the NCAA Water Polo Championships was announced April 29, with UCSD capturing the fifth seed. USC and UCLA will also take part in the championship. The Tritons will face off against No. 4-seed University of Hawaii on May 10 at 7 p.m. EST at Harvard University.

The No. 13 nationally ranked UCSD earned its ticket to the national tournament when it took down perennial powerhouse Loyola Marymount University, beating the Lions 10–8 in the championship game of the Western Water Polo Association tournament last Sunday, April 28. The win counts as UCSD’s second conference title since moving to the WWPA in 2001.

“It was really awesome to win,” junior utility Sarah Lizotte said. “I think that our team worked extremely hard, and being placed first put extra weight on our shoulders, but we performed well.”

The Tritons will have their hands full against the University of Hawaii, who earned an automatic bid with a win in the Big West tournament. The top-seeded Rainbow Wahine — sharing the regular season title with UC Irvine — took a 5–4 double-overtime win against the Anteaters to punch their ticket to the national tournament.

UCSD faced the University of Hawaii once this season back in March at the Hawaii Spring Break Tournament. The Tritons fell 5–6 to the Rainbow Wahine. UCSD is 2–16 all-time against the University of Hawaii.

“Coming into the tournament, it was kind of a toss-up,” Lizotte said. “We didn’t know where we were going to be placed. I’m pleased with being placed sixth. It sets us up nicely for potentially winning the game and moving on.”

When asked about UCSD’s first-round matchup against the University of Hawaii, Lizotte says the Tritons will benefit from having seen the Rainbow Wahine earlier in the season.

“It’s good that we’ve already seen them play and have played against them,” Lizotte said. “We have an advantage having seen them and not going in blindly.”

UCSD (25–13 overall, 7–0 in the WWPA) earned the regular season title along with the tournament title and have a lot of momentum heading into the national tournament. The Tritons went 11­­–1 in the month of April and have five all-WWPA players in tow — including WWPA Player of the Year Lizotte.

“I just hope we perform to the best our abilities,” Lizotte said. “So I think that if we play with enthusiasm and excitement, we’ll perform well.”

The winner of the match between UCSD and the University of Hawaii will play the following day against the winner of the match-up between No. 1-seeded USC and No. 8-seeded Pomona Pitzer. The national championship game will be played March 12 at 5:15 p.m. EST.