LOS ANGELES - In a dramatic final day of SoCal Tournament action, the 13th-ranked UC San Diego men's water polo team secured one-goal victories over No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 10 Loyola Marymount to capture ninth place in the 16-squad field.
"It was definitely a good weekend," UCSD head coach Denny Harper said. "Anytime you go 3-1 at the SoCal Tournament, you've done something right. Not many people understand how grueling these two-games-a-day tournaments can be. We talk a lot about how you have to step up and play great water polo on Sunday of a big tournament. Many teams have a hard time doing that but we played incredible today."The Tritons improve their overall record to 9-6, which includes a 6-1 mark in the last seven matches. UCSD started the two-day competition with a loss to Stanford but rebounded to finish with three-straight wins. The most recent program victories against Pepperdine and LMU came in the 2006 campaign.
On Sunday morning in the Tritons' 8-7 win over Pepperdine, senior Bryce Madsen and sophomore Brian Donohoe led the squad with two goals apiece. After UCSD took a 3-1 lead into halftime, the Waves rallied for a 5-2 run in the third quarter to seize a 6-5 advantage.
Entering the final minute, the two squads were tied at 7-7. Donohoe ended up recording the game-winning score with 51 seconds remaining in regulation. One day after registering a school-record 21 saves against Concordia Irvine, junior goalkeeper David Morton collected six saves in the win over Pepperdine.
The victory set up a 5:20 p.m. matchup against conference rival LMU. After falling to Pacific 10-6 in their tournament opener, the Lions bounced back to defeat Princeton and Santa Clara in the two matches that followed.
UCSD and LMU engaged in a seesaw battle through the entirety of Sunday's game. The score read 3-3 at the close of the first quarter, while the Tritons took a 5-4 lead into halftime. The Lions outscored UCSD 2-1 in the third period, sending the teams into the final eight minutes in a 6-6 deadlock.
The Tritons' defense shined, holding LMU scoreless in the fourth quarter. UCSD stepped out of the pool victorious, 7-6, as Ryan Allred tallied the game-winner and Morton recorded 12 saves along the way. Six different Triton players scored, led by John Butler's two goals.
"From where we started the season to this point is amazing," Harper said. "The guys now believe in the system and they played with great poise today in two games that were really gnarly and right down to the wire. A lot of guys played really well -- Brian Donohoe never came out of the LMU game and Ryan Allred's winning goal was unbelievable."
Up next, UCSD will host 8th-ranked Long Beach State on Friday at 6 p.m. The 49ers are 6-6 in the 2010 season.