Women’s Water Polo Advances to NCAA Tournament

    Photo By Alwin Szeto
    Photo By Alwin Szeto

    Tritons take victory over Whittier, advance for third consecutive year.

    Photo By Alwin Szeto
    Photo By Alwin Szeto

    This past Saturday, UCSD women’s water polo accomplished their yearly goal of reaching the NCAA Championship by defeating Whittier College 17–11 in the NCAA play-in game at the Canyonview Aquatic Center. This is the third consecutive year that the team has been able to advance to the championship.

    With this win, the Tritons improved their record to 19–18 for the season, and they will hope to keep their momentum going into their fourth overall appearance in the NCAA Championship.

    The shining star for the Tritons in this game was sophomore attacker Lani Tittle. Tittle, who had previously scored a career-high four goals this past week in the Western Water Polo Association Championship game against Cal State East Bay, was able to recreate her impressive performance against Whittier, once again scoring four goals. Sophomore center Lauren Boyer, junior attacker Julia Kirkland and senior attacker Jolene Guiliana also came up big with exemplary performances, each producing a hat trick to contribute to the victory.

    The Whittier Poets grabbed their only lead at the beginning of the game when they were able to score the opening goal. The Tritons snatched the lead away from them not long after off back-to-back goals from freshman utility Kayla Fedler and another goal from Boyer, though the Poets were able to tie up the score at 3–3 at the end of the first quarter.

    UCSD started pulling away from Whittier in the second quarter. Boyer and Tittle both contributed to make a total of four goals while Whittier could only produce one. This resulted in the quarter ending with a 7–3 lead for UCSD.

    In the third quarter, the Tritons’ offensive firepower was on display and UCSD truly pulled ahead, scoring six goals. Five of the goals were scored unanswered in the beginning of the quarter before the Poets scored their only goal of the quarter. The third quarter ended with the Tritons holding their lead at 13–5.

    “The halftime speeches, [Head Coach Brad Kreutzkamp] just telling us that we need to win this quarter …” Tittle told the UCSD Athletics Department. “And to show them that we deserve to go championships really drove our third-quarter performance.”

    The fourth quarter was a little choppy for the Tritons as the Poets were finally able to figure out the Triton’s defense. Whittier was able to put up six goals in the quarter to the Tritons’ four goals. Despite the Poets’ effort, the Tritons were never threatened and came out ahead comfortably, winning 17–11.

    “We have been tested all year long, and that’s what we’ve talked about year long, is that we will be tested all year long so that we can get to games like this with pressure on us to see how we perform,” Kreutzkamp told the UCSD Athletics Department.

    As a result of the win, the Tritons will be advancing to the eight-team field in Stanford University at the Avery Aquatic Center on May 8 to 10. The Tritons are slotted to face-off against No. 2 UCLA (24–2) in the first round on Friday at 3 p.m.

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