After almost a year off, UC San Diego’s 10th-ranked women’s water polo team defeated No. 17 crosstown rival San Diego State University in a triple-overtime match on Friday, Feb. 19. Senior attacker Grace Pevehouse scored the sudden-death game-winner, her fourth goal on the day and her second in overtime.
Friday’s match at SDSU was the first match for the UCSD Tritons since their season was canceled in early March of last year. Unlike many other UCSD teams, the women’s water polo squad was already a member of the Big West Conference last season; however, they were only able to play two games of their conference schedule, winning one, before the coronavirus pandemic ended their season.
Despite all that time off, the Tritons didn’t look at all rusty in the first period against the SDSU Aztecs, as senior utility player Sydney Boland opened the scoring ninety-five seconds into the match. The Tritons would extend their lead further in the first period, as goals from senior center Ciara Franke and Pevehouse gave UCSD a 3–0 lead going into the second quarter.
SDSU got on the board with 5:37 to go in the second period, helped by a power play that followed the ejection of Triton sophomore center Grayson Mix, who was making her first start. Although Boland was able to push the lead back to three with a power-play goal of her own, the Aztecs scored once again off a Pevehouse ejection to put the match at 4–2 going into the half.
Just twenty-six seconds after halftime, Franke skipped in a goal to put the Tritons up 5–2. But another power play for the Aztecs allowed SDSU’s Karli Canale — a La Jolla High School alum — to score, and 2 minutes later, Canale drilled a penalty shot to put her squad within one, 5–4, entering the fourth.
The fourth period began with 4 minutes of back-and-forth play, as the Tritons sought to secure their lead and the Aztecs sought an equalizer. With 4:29 remaining, Franke drew a penalty shot, but it was saved, and SDSU’s counterattack yielded the tying goal, the third in a row for Canale. Fifteen seconds later, with 4:04 on the clock, Pevehouse scored to once again give UCSD a single-goal lead, but with just 1:11 remaining, SDSU’s Jessica Leckich scored another equalizer. The Aztecs had a shot after a late timeout in the closing seconds to steal the comeback win, but they failed to score, sending the game into overtime.
In the first three-minute overtime period, Canale struck once again, as she scored a go-ahead goal with 1:55 remaining. Less than a minute later, UCSD senior attacker Tera Richardson answered with a goal of her own to tie the match at 7. Despite a penalty against Canale, the match went into a second overtime.
Just as in the first overtime, the Aztecs struck first, as a goal from their Spencer Samuel put them up 8–7 less than half a minute into the period. But Pevehouse put the Tritons back in it with another power-play goal, and UCSD was able to withstand an SDSU power play after a Boland ejection to send the game into triple overtime.
By NCAA rules, the third overtime period was played in sudden-death, where the first goal scored wins. The Aztecs, who had scored first in the two preceding overtime periods, got the ball first and mounted an offensive, but their shot missed the mark. On the rapid counterattack, Pevehouse fired a ball past the Aztec keeper to win the game for UCSD at 9–8.
Pevehouse, who last season was on the Big West All-Academic Team and was second on the team in scoring, led the Tritons with 4 goals to go along with 2 steals; Franke and Boland also each had 2 goals. On the defensive end, UCSD’s senior goalkeeper Bennett Bugelli notched a career high in saves with 17. The win is UCSD’s sixth straight against SDSU, a massive reversal against a team who used to always have the Tritons’ number — the Aztecs took thirteen straight matchups between 2006 and 2013.
Despite the win, Triton head coach Brad Kreutzkamp thinks his team has room for improvement.
“With everyone taking so much time off we knew that both teams were going to be rusty. And that’s exactly what you saw,” said Kreutzkamp to UCSD Athletics. “Super proud of my team for not giving up and coming back when you’re down in overtime. I think it’s a testament to what a veteran squad we have.”
No. 10 UCSD will play its first home games of the season in a Feb. 27 doubleheader against No. 22 California Baptist University, before traveling to UC Irvine for a pair of games on Mar. 5 and 6.
Photo courtesy of Derrick Tuskan / UC San Diego Athletics