LA JOLLA, Calif. – The 13th-ranked UC San Diego women’s water polo team earned its third Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) title in four years in convincing fashion Sunday, downing Cal State East Bay 16-3 at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
The Tritons move one step closer to reaching the National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship for the second consecutive season with the victory. After earning the conference’s automatic qualifier, UCSD will be placed in the NCAA play-in game scheduled for Saturday, May 3. The full seeding and schedule will be released Monday. The NCAA selection show can be watched at 5 p.m. by clicking here.
UCSD improves to 26-10 overall following the win, while CSUEB finishes its season at 17-14.
Jolene Guiliana, named the WWPA Championships Most Valuable Player, led the charge offensively with five scores to pace the Triton offense, while All-Tournament First Team member and WWPA Player of the Year Sarah Lizotte found the back of the cage four times in the win.
Courtney Miller, also named to the All-Tournament First Team, blocked 10 shots in goal to limit the Pioneer offense throughout the day.
UCSD came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and quickly distanced themselves from CSUEB. The Tritons scored the first seven goals of the game and never looked back.
“The quick start changed everything,” said head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. “When you have a senior team like this that’s been in this championship all four years, especially when we knew our opponent hadn’t been in one, really helped us put this game away.”
Lizotte led the offensive onslaught with a man-up goal to get things started, before Miller delivered a pass the length of the pool to a sprinting Guiliana, who quickly found the back of the cage to put the Tritons up 2-0.
Melissa Bartow, selected to the All-Tournament Second Team, followed with an overpowering goal at the two-meter line before drawing a five-meter penalty. She raises her UCSD career all-time record to 40. Lizotte buried home the penalty to make the score 4-0.
Miller shutout the Pioneers in the second and third periods, while the offense poured in seven scores to make the score 14-1 after three.
“We knew that Sarah Hudyn was a powerhouse, so we put our best defensive player in Leah Gonzales on her,” noted Kreutzkamp about the defensive effort. “If she (Hudyn) got through Leah, she still had to get through Courtney Miller in the cage who’s been a wall all year for us.”
UCSD closed out the title with two scores in the final quarter to win 16-3.
“These gals are working their tails off and we are doing something right down here,” said Kreutzkamp on what the title means to the program. “I’m really proud of the girls.”
The second-consecutive crown marks the first time in program history the Tritons have repeated as champions after winning in 2013.
UCSD has now won nine straight games and has scored in double-digits in eight of those nine contests.
The Tritons will move into the next round of postseason play with the NCAA play-in game and will learn its fate tomorrow. The NCAA selection show can be watched at 5 p.m. by clicking here.
2014 WWPA Championships All-Tournament Team
Jolene Guiliana, Jr., UCSD – Tournament MVP
Ashton Palmer, Jr., CSUMB
Noelle Hererra, So., SSU
Jessica Becker, So., SSU
Allison Zell, Sr., CSUEB
Marina Nation, Jr., CSUEB
Courtney Miller, So., UCSD
Sarah Lizotte, Sr., UCSD
Allison Glaser, Sr., CSUSB
Cameron Kellogg, Fr., CSUMB
Caitlin Risden, Sr., SSU
Sara Hudyn, Sr., CSUEB
Melissa Bartow, Sr., UCSD
UCSD 7 2 5 2 - 16
CSUEB 1 0 0 2 - 3
UCSD: Jolene Guiliana 5, Sarah Lizotte 4, Alexis Wieseler 2, Melissa Bartow 1, Julia Kirkland 1, Leah Gonzales 1, Emma Sasson 1, Lani Tittle 1
CSUEB: Casey Rushorth 2, Jennifer Lightbody 1
UCSD: Courtney Miller 10, Alexsee Wilcox 2
CSUEB: Marrina Nation 10