*** John Butler and Brian Donohoe give their takes on the amazing crowd in an exclusive interview on UCSD Athletics' facebook page. ***
LA JOLLA, Calif. - There's nothing like playing your conference rival in front of a record home crowd of 1,904 fans to bring out the best in a team. Eleventh-ranked UC San Diego hosted No. 10 Loyola Marymount Wednesday at Canyonview Pool and came away with a 10-8 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) win to open the home season in style.
"It always feels good to beat your rival," said UCSD head coach Denny Harper. "LMU and UCSD have an amazing history of battling each other and tonight was no different. I thought that we, for the most part, controlled. We're starting to get a better flow of what we can do."
The Tritons had four different players score, led by Josh Stiling's five goals to help UCSD to a 5-3 overall record and a 5-1 mark in the WWPA. The Lions moved to 4-5 and received their first conference loss, dropping to 3-1.
As expected, the match was back-and-forth in scoring as well as extremely physical, with four individuals getting majored and unable to complete the game.
Stiling put UCSD on the board first in the opening quarter but LMU evened it up shortly thereafter. The physicality of the match came into play quickly with back-to-back offensive calls in the next two sequences. John Butler then scored off a counter to give the lead back to the Tritons. UCSD drew an ejection at the two minute mark and, after using the full 20 seconds, Stiling scored off the right side. LMU's Multin Mitrovic earned a five-meter shot, bringing the score to 3-2 in favor of the Tritons at the end of the first.
UCSD outscored the Lions in both the second (3-2) and third (2-1) quarters with two goals from David Higginson and another from Stiling.
Stiling's final goal of the night at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter gave UCSD its largest lead and, despite being outscored 3-2 in the frame, the Tritons never relinquished their advantage. The fourth quarter proved to be the most physical, with 12 total ejections in the eight minutes of play.
The Tritons have a short break before returning to competition this weekend, traveling to UC Santa Barbara for the SoCal Tournament. UCSD's first match of bracket play will be Saturday at noon against the hosting Gauchos.
UCSD 3 - 3 - 2 - 2 = 10
LMU 2 - 2 - 1 - 3 = 8
UCSD GOALS: Stiling 5, Butler 2, Higginson 2, Syka
LMU GOALS: Mitrovic 3, Coldren 2, Colton, Walters, Mikuzis
UCSD SAVES: Ravanbach 11
LMU SAVES: Testman 9
-- UCSDtritons.com --