LA JOLLA, Calif. - No. 13 UC San Diego’s quest for a second consecutive appearance at the National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship began Saturday at Canyonview Aquatic Center with a 14-5 win over Sonoma State in the semifinals of the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships.
The Tritons (25-10) move into the WWPA championship match tomorrow at 1 p.m. against Cal State East Bay (17-13), who defeated Cal State Monterey Bay, 5-4, in the earlier semifinal. UCSD has now made the championship game in five-straight seasons.
The Seawolves (8-22) will play in the third-place game at 11 a.m. against CSUMB.
The Tritons led from start-to-finish and was powered by All-WWPA Second Team selection Jolene Guiliana, who found the back of the cage four times in the win. UCSD also received a hat trick from the WWPA Player of the Year, Sarah Lizotte.
UCSD scored the first two goals of the game and eventually led 3-1 at the end of the first period. Leah Gonzales set up Melissa Bartow at the five-meter line to open the scoring, before Lizotte dished out a pair of assists to Guiliana on well-timed back cuts to free her up for two straight goals.
Lizotte jumped into the scoring mix in the second and opened the period with a score, before a Bartow backhand found the back of the cage to put UCSD up 5-2. The Tritons closed out the period with three straight goals to lead 8-2 at the intermission.
After SSU opened the second half with a score, the Tritons responded less than a minute later with another Guiliana goal, set up by Gonzales.
UCSD continued to wear down the Seawolves, who were playing their third game of the championships, in the second half and put the game away. The Tritons scored a total of six goals the final two periods to make the final 14-5.
Courtney Miller finished with seven saves in the cage to power the Triton defense.
UCSD has now won eight straight games and has scored in double-digits in seven of those eight contests.
The championship match is slated to begin at 1 p.m. at Canyonview Aquatic Center. UCSD downed CSUEB, 10-3, earlier in the year on April 6.
UCSD 3 5 3 3 - 14
SSU 1 1 2 1 - 5
UCSD: Jolene Guiliana 4, Sarah Lizotte 3, Melissa Bartow 2, Andie Nishimi 1, Alexis Wieseler 1, Leah Gonzales 1, Emma Sasson 1, Laurel Kistler 1
SSU: Noelle Herrera 2, Nicole Browning 1, Caitlin Risden 1, Shannon Baer 1
UCSD: Courtney Miller 7
SSU: Andrea Mallul 14