UC San Diego’s women’s water polo team (9–5, 4–1 Big West) split their two-game series with California State University, Long Beach (2–7, 1–3 Big West) on April 16 and 17. After a heartbreaking loss on Friday by a score of 15–14, the Tritons took care of business with an 8–6 victory on Saturday. The ninth-ranked UCSD was undefeated in league play coming into this two-game slate with Long Beach State, so a rebound after a difficult loss was crucial in maintaining their momentum moving forward in conference play.
In the first game, the Tritons came out very hot, with senior center Ciara Franke scoring on the Tritons’ first chance of the game. Another goal would extend the lead to 2–0 at the beginning of the second period, with another goal putting UCSD up three, and the match looked as expected, with the highly-ranked Triton team outplaying a struggling CSULB squad. However, the Long Beach team did not let this one get away from them. Quickly, the Tritons surrendered two goals in a span of thirty seconds and the deficit was cut to one.
An extremely high scoring, back-and-forth second period saw the Tritons score a total of five goals to CSULB’s six, and going into the half UCSD led by a score of 7–6. In the first half, Franke and freshman utility player Annika Arroyo each had 2 goals, but a last second score by Long Beach deflated the Tritons as the first half ended, with both teams looking to shore up the defensive end going into the next half.
In the third period, Franke secured her hat trick with 3:39 left to go, tying the game at 8 after Long Beach secured their first lead of the game. The Tritons continued to struggle on the defensive end, allowing another 5 goals in the third period, giving CSULB an 11–10 advantage over the Tritons, propelled by 2 goals in the last 20 seconds of the period, including another last-second score.
Within the first 3 minutes of the fourth quarter, the Tritons put themselves in a hole by allowing another 3 goals, with only a goal from senior attacker Grace Pevehouse stemming the UCSD deficit to 3. Going into the final minute, Franke’s 4th goal and Pevehouse’s 3rd put the Long Beach lead at just 14–13. Another goal allowed within the last 30 seconds would doom the Tritons, even after a late goal by Arroyo pulled the final score to 15–14. The high-flying effort by both squads resulted in a narrow victory for CSULB, but the Tritons had a chance for revenge just a day after.
Coming off a tough loss, the Tritons looked motivated to finish the week with a win. UCSD’s Arroyo scored two goals in the first period, continuing a hot streak from the previous game for the freshman. Tied going into the final minute of the period, the last-minute goal would go for UCSD this time, by way of a Tera Richardson power play score.
Franke scored another 2 goals to match 2 scores from Long Beach players, and the Tritons again found themselves with a one-goal advantage going into the half, hoping for a different result this time around. A single Long Beach goal was the only score of the third period, knotting the game at 5 apiece with one period to go, setting up another exciting finish between these two squads.
UCSD struck first, going up one at the 6:24 mark, hoping to build their lead. No goals were scored for another four minutes, until Pevehouse scored a timely goal with two minutes to go to give the Tritons a 2-score cushion. Arroyo got her second hat trick in a row with a goal that put the Tritons up 8–5 with 56 seconds remaining, and a garbage time goal from CSULB put the final score at 8–6.
After rebounding last weekend from the tough loss against Long Beach, the Tritons will now take on UC Irvine on April 23 and April 24, hoping to build off of the victory and continue to look like one of the most formidable teams in the nation.
Photo courtesy of Derrick Tuskan / UC San Diego Athletics