LA JOLLA, Calif. - Covered by a dome of white clouds, the No. 18 UC San Diego women's water polo team defeated Azusa Pacific, 13-4, before beating Fresno Pacific, 16-5, on Saturday at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
The Tritons improve to 15-11 and return to action on Friday at 6 p.m. when they host Cal Baptist. The Sunbirds of FPU and the Cougars of APU fall to 5-23 and 7-21, respectively.
For the UCSD Mini Tournament, the Tritons went 3-0 and outscored their opponents, 36-15.
Like the weather around them, the Tritons proved to be cold to their competition and never trailed in either of Saturday's games.
With 16 goals against the Sunbirds, the Tritons set a season-high in goals scored. Melissa Bartow and Katherine Biehle each had a game-high three goals. Brittany Daniels also contributed a pair of goals while eight other Tritons added to the goal count.
"With finals week and spring break back-to-back for us, we have time to go back to the drawing board and work on some defensive things," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "We had to just clean up little things that I thought that we really executed well. We're working in the strike zone for having a takeaway early and we're doing a much better job of that."
After a remarkable defensive effort against the Cougars, it proved to be only a teaser to the action that followed in the second game with the Sunbirds.
Kirsten Bates ended the shortly-lived scoreless tie just 27 seconds into the game to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead, marking the first of four goals in the opening quarter. UCSD would score eight goals in the first half.
The defense also did its part and was near-flawless in the first half, holding the Sunbirds scoreless for the first 16 minutes of play. UCSD's defensive effort was highlighted by Biehle's blocks deep in Triton territory.
In spite of the Sunbirds' third-quarter surge in which they scored four unanswered points, the Tritons were never in danger of surrendering their lead and led by as many as 12 in the last quarter.
Using a similar gameplan in the first game against APU, Kreutzkamp was very pleased with the Tritons' performance.
“It feels really good to get a win like that,” Kreutzkamp said. “The girls have worked really hard this year. All our games seem to be one-or-two-goal games and so we don't really get to go deep into our bench, and this was a great game to go really deep. Everybody got minutes, and we got a lot of different people on the board today.”
Sarah Lizotte led the Tritons' offensive against the Cougars with three goals, while Leah Gonzales had two. Although 10 different players contributed scores, Kreutzkamp credited the team's defensive effort which held APU to two goals in each half as the reason why UCSD dominated the game.
“I'm going to give a team ball to the entire team defense today,” Kreutzkamp said. “Only holding them to two goals per half is a good job for that part.”
Following a pair of ricocheting shots off the posts, the Tritons found the back of the net to end the scoreless tie when Biehle did so with a shot at the 5:29 mark. Her score was answered immediately on the next possession by Taylor Whitney with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
Taking a 3-2 lead into the second quarter, UCSD proceeded to put together a 4-0 run that extended into the third quarter. The Tritons went into intermission with a 6-2 lead.
Even though the Tritons put the game well out of the Cougars' reach, the home team was not finished and tacked on a 5-0 run, capped off by Haley Kunert's goal at the 6:54 mark in the final quarter of play to lead 12-3.
For the day, Allie Taylor had two saves in both games and Tala Majaj had five, including four in the latter contest. Taylor only allowed one goal against the Cougars and was flawless in her two quarters of work in the Sunbirds game.