LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 11 UC San Diego men's water polo team battled through a close game to defeat No. 13 Air Force, 10-9, at Canyonview Aquatic Center Thursday night.
John Butler led UCSD offensively, finishing with his first hat trick on the year. Brian Donohoe added another two as the senior classmates accounted for half of the Tritons' goals.
With the win, UCSD improved to 8-6 overall and 7-2 in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA). Air Force dropped to 8-7 and 7-3 in conference.
The Falcons scored the first goal of the match but the Tritons answered quickly with a goal from Brian Roach 13 seconds later to tie the game up. UCSD's defense forced AFU to take the majority of its shots from outside the five-meter line the remainder of the first quarter.
Air Force did not gain another lead for the remainder of the game, but tied it four times throughout the first half.
The Tritons took a 6-4 advantage into halftime and then owned its largest lead of the game at 7-4 early in the third quarter. Butler missed on a bar-down shot from the lefty-side, but teammate Matthew Michalko was there to sweep in the trash.
Air Force did not allow UCSD to score again until 7:40 as Butler put away his third and final goal of the game, a bar-in that broke the goal line.
AFU came out strong in the final eight minutes, outscoring the Tritons 3-2. The Falcons brought the game to 10-9 with 2:51 remaining with a goal from junior two-meter Andrew Hamilton, who accounted for two of the team's fourth-quarter goals.
The Tritons received the ball with just 37 seconds remaining and drained the shot clock. As the Falcons received possession, there was a double misconduct call issued to Michalko and AFU's Garrett Womack, with an additional brutality issued to Womack. The Tritons chose not to take the five-meter penalty shot and ran out the clock for the final seven seconds to earn the victory.
UCSD has a quick turnaround as it visits conference foe No. 9 Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Burns Aquatics Center. The Tritons then face No. 2 UCLA at Spieker Aquatics Center. Both game times are set for 12:00 p.m.
UCSD 2 - 4 - 2 - 2 = 10
Air Force 2 - 2 - 3 - 2 = 9
UCSD Goals: John Butler 3, Brian Donohoe 2, Joe Dietrich, Matthew Michalko, Brian Roach, Tiki Toplak, David Higginson
Air Force Goals: Womack 3, Hamilton 3, Rajchel, Reilly, Stedman
UCSD Saves: Cameron Ravanbach 8
Air Force Saves: Fish 5
-- UCSDtritons.com --