LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 12th-ranked and second-seeded University of California San Diego men’s water polo team survived a late comeback and defeated No. 17 California Baptist, the third seed, by a final score of 11-9 in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship semifinals Saturday at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
UC San Diego will play top-seeded No. 8 UC Davis for the conference title, with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. It is the seventh-straight year that the Tritons are part of the WWPA Championship game. UCSD will look to capture its 19th overall conference title.
The Tritons improve to 11-13 overall with the win. The Lancers are now 21-13.
Freshman Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt and sophomore Skyler Munatones had hat tricks, scoring three goals apiece. Both Tritons also tallied a pair of steals each. Junior Sam Thompson had a big night in goal, making 13 stops for a .692 save percentage. Thompson also had a steal.
UCSD converted on 5-of-10 of its powerplays while CBU went 2-of-8 in man-up situations.
Turnbow-Lindenstadt got things started scoring on a powerplay off a feed from junior Kevin Asplund. The Lancers tied it up after Thomas Henline was able to find the back of the net. CBU’s Kyle Johnson scored on a 6-on-5 to give the three-seed a one goal lead after the first frame.
A great second quarter gave UCSD a 5-3 lead at the half. Junior Carson Ivancovich, sophomore Kacper Langiewicz, Turnbow-Lindenstadt and junior Alessandro Valania each scored in the frame while Turnbow-Lindenstadt also added an assist. The UC San Diego defense held the Lancers to one goal.
The Tritons notched back-to-back goals to open the third quarter, going up by four, 7-3. CBU answered, scoring two-straight, to make it a two-goal game. Langiewicz tallied his second goal of the game with 1:58 showing in the frame giving UCSD a three-goal cushion.
Turnbow-Lindenstadt completed his hat trick early in the fourth quarter but the Lancers made it interesting, scoring three-straight to bring the game within one, 9-8, with one minute left in regulation. Munatones had two goals with under a minute to play to ultimately seal the win.
Gabe Thorne made eight saves for CBU.
UC Davis took down fifth-seeded Air Force, 17-8, in Saturday's first semifinal. The Aggies will look to defend their WWPA title tomorrow against UCSD.
In today's consolation games, seventh-seeded Santa Clara upset sixth-seeded Loyola Marymount by a score of 15-14 to advance to Sunday's fifth-place game. Fourth-seeded Concordia Irvine pulled away from eighth-seeded Fresno Pacific in the second half to secure a 13-9 victory. The Eagles will play the Broncos in the fifth-place game at 9:40 a.m. The Lions will face the Sunbirds in the seventh-place game at 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 19
Game 9 (Seventh-place): Loyola Marymount vs. Fresno Pacific - 8 a.m.
Game 10 (Fifth-place): Concordia vs. Santa Clara - 9:40 a.m.
Game 11 (Third-place): California Baptist vs. Air Force - 11:20 a.m.
Game 12 (First-place): UC Davis vs. UC San Diego - 1:00 p.m.
UC San Diego 11, California Baptist 9
UC San Diego 1 4 3 3 - 11
Cal Baptist 2 1 2 4 - 9
CBU: Luke Schuler 2, Joseph Galgani 2, Jonny Lotero 2, Kyle Johnson, Thomas Henline, Britton.
UCSD: Sam Thompson 13
CBU: Gabe Thorne 8