Tritons fall to Aggies in thrilling Senior Night battle

Tritons fall to Aggies in thrilling Senior Night battle
Image by Keita Kobayashi for The UCSD Guardian

The UC San Diego women’s water polo team’s (16–11, 4–3 Big West) final Big West game of the season came down to the final seconds of overtime as the Tritons fell just short of UC Davis (9–17, 1–5 Big West) by a score of 17–16. 

 

With UC Davis in possession of the ball and leading 14–13 in the final 20 seconds of regulation, the Aggies were in an optimal position to run out the clock. However, a play restart with the Aggie goalkeeper turning themself toward their own goal presented an ideal opportunity for the quickly-approaching junior Kendall Thomas, who swatted the opponent’s hand and ball, launching it into the net to force overtime.

 

UC Davis gained the upper hand in the shortened fifth period with a simple, point-blank shot set up by a poor Triton defensive effort. UCSD responded on the next drive, however, as Lucia Doak recorded her first goal with a skipped shot. A focused shot from outside the 5-meter line kept the Aggies ahead for the final 3 minutes. 

 

Doak pulled it out of the fire once more to tie the game in the opening minute of the sixth period. Unfortunately, another Triton exclusion weakened the defense just enough for the Aggies to seize the victory on their final possession of the game.

 

Before the late-game madness, UCSD entered the fourth period on top with an 11–10 lead, an advantage that was traded throughout the first 3 periods. Accordingly, UC Davis quickly took the 12–11 lead with consecutive goals. Senior captain Annika Arroyo then netted her first of the match, followed by junior Courtney Okumura’s first score to draw level at 13 apiece. 

 

UC Davis’ rapid offensive play kept UCSD on the back foot for much of the game, a trend formed in the first period when the hosts took an early lead via a bottom-left slice from sophomore Sofia Munatones. An Aggie penalty on the following possession ensured a level score before the minute mark.

 

The visitors seized a 3–1 lead, their largest cushion of the game, which was slowly cut down to a 4–3 deficit by the end of the period with goals from redshirt junior Caroline Christl and Thomas. The final minute of the quarter saw the Aggies receive 2 point-blank attempts on goal after the Tritons stole and precipitously gave up the ball near their own goal; both shoots spun wide of the net.

 

Thomas started off the second period with a lobbed shot from distance, quickly followed by another score to reclaim the lead; Thomas and Christl each finished with a team-leading 5 goals. Now on the front foot, the Tritons took control, resulting in consecutive goals by Christl — a cross-goal laser and a penalty conversion — to go into halftime with an 8–7 lead. 

 

Despite the edge, the Aggies were gifted an easier offensive experience due to the Tritons’ exclusions; all 3 of the team’s second-period goals came during power plays. UC Davis finished 6-for-10 on power plays, whereas UCSD ended 2-for-4.

 

The third period continued to be the Thomas-Christl Show as both spun in acrobatic backhand shots. Christl converted her third penalty shot of the game within this time to keep a dynamic UC Davis side under wraps with an 11–10 lead.

 

Friday evening’s loss marks the Tritons’ second straight loss by 1 goal, their previous shortcoming a 10–9 scoreline against CSU Long Beach on April 13. On the flip side, UCSD has also won two games by a goal via 6–5 and 7–6 victories over UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, respectively. The team’s other 3 matches were on the opposite extreme of deep deficits — a 16–7 win against CSU Northridge, an 18–8 loss to Hawai’i, and a 15–4 win against CSU Fullerton.

 

Preceding the nail-biting matchup, UCSD honored its six departing seniors: Annika Arroyo, Lauren Bellavia, Hannah Kawar, Grayson Mix, Olivia Seargeant, and Katie Ward. All of the players, save for an injured Kawar, started their collegiate athletics career with the Tritons, playing architect for the team’s meticulous plays.

 

UCSD now looks forward to the Big West Championship taking place at UC Davis’ Schaal Aquatics Center from April 26 to April 28. The fourth-seed Tritons will take on fifth-seed CSUN in the quarterfinal with a chance to play first-seed Hawai’i or eighth-seed UC Davis, both of which will be redemption matches. A win there will send them to the championship match on April 28. All of UCSD’s prospective matches are slated for 12 p.m. PST.

 

 

NOTE: This newspaper was printed on the day of UC San Diego’s match against San Diego State on Apr. 21, preventing this article from covering the contest.

 

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About the Contributors
Senji Torrey, Contributing Writer
Senji is a third-year transfer student majoring in Communication. With three years of grueling high school newspaper experience under his belt, Senji is ready for his big break down in SD!
Keita Kobayashi
Keita Kobayashi, Photo Editor
Photo team, best team (W.I.P)
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