LOS ANGELES – Alexis Wieseler scored five times for No. 12 UC San Diego, but No. 6 UC Irvine proved too much to handle Saturday on day two of the NCAA Championship to defeat the Tritons 17-11 at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
UCSD scored four times and cut the Anteater lead to 11-9 in the third period, but UCI put the game out of reach with a six-goal final frame to remove any thought of an upset.
“There wasn’t a lot of great defense out there today on either side. We got down early, used our man-up offense to get back in it but just couldn’t sustain the momentum we built in the third quarter,” said head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. “Heading into the last eight minutes, I thought we had ourselves in position to get them, but they scored a couple of real quick goals and it just took away the energy we’d created.”
The Tritons opened the game with a man-up goal after Wieseler rifled a pass from Julia Kirkland into the back of the cage to make the score 1-0. The Anteaters responded with three straight goals to take the lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish, 3-1.
Sarah Lizotte scored on a Triton power-play before UCI added another goal to make the score 4-2 after the opening quarter.
After UCI extended its lead to 6-2 early in the second period, the Tritons closed the first half with two straight goals to cut the deficit to 6-4 at the intermission. Kirkland assisted Wieseler on the first score before Lauren Boyer found the back of the cage with a nice look from Emma Sasson inside.
The Triton offense continued to perform in the third period and kept the game in striking distance. Lizotte assisted Wieseler on a man-up advantage before UCSD scored three of the final four goals of the quarter. Wieseler added another on an advantage, Kirkland nailed the back of the cage and Jolene Guiliana scored with :18 seconds left to make the score 11-9 as the game headed into the final quarter.
The Anteaters came out in the fourth and put the game away, however, scoring the first three goals of the period and six overall to make the final 17-11.
“I thought our 6-on-5 game was fantastic,” said Kreutzkamp. “Anytime you can go 9-of-11 in those situations you’re usually going to do pretty well but we just weren’t able to maintain the kind of defensive effort we put out yesterday.”
The Tritons were out-shot in the loss, 32-25. UCI also won the exclusion battle, 12-11, but only converted four on the afternoon despite finishing with 17 goals.
Lizotte ended the game with a pair of goals to improve her NCAA Championship total to 23 in her career. Guiliana also added two goals, while Boyer and Kirkland tallied the final scores with one each.
Courtney Miller finished with a co-game high eight saves inside the cage.
UCSD will play in the seventh place match against Indiana tomorrow at noon in the season finale. Kreutzkamp has his sights set on his UCSD squad to accomplish something no other Triton water polo has done in the National Collegiate Championship era, finish inside the top-10 rankings at the end of the season.
“Tomorrow’s game is very important. No matter who we play, it will be a team ranked ahead of us. We consider ourselves a top 10 team, our goal is to finish in the top 10 at the end of the season and a win tomorrow would put us right in the picture.”