Photo by: Ken Grosse/UCSD Athletics
Graham Saber scored four goals on the final day of the Triton Invitational.
No. 8 LMU Slips Past No. 12 UCSD at Triton Invite
Release: Sunday 09/04/2011 

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 12 UC San Diego men's water polo team dropped its only match of the Triton Invitational to No. 8 Loyola Marymount, 7-6, on Sunday afternoon in Canyonview Pool.

LMU remains undefeated at 4-0 on the year while UCSD falls to 3-1. Brian Donohoe scored a pair of goals and Matthew Michalko tallied a goal to bring the Tritons within one with 1:26 left to play, but UCSD could not pull even with the Lions.

"This really went the way I thought it was going to go, actually," said UCSD head coach Denny Harper. "I thought we did pretty well considering the lack of work some of our players have been able to do because of injuries." 

The Lions opened up a two-goal lead in the first quarter, but Donohoe scored with under a minute left to make it 2-1 at the first break in regulation.

John Butler tied it 2-2 with 5:47 left in the half and the Tritons would eventually take its only lead of the match two minutes later, when Graham Saber scored from the left flank on a 6-on-5 to make it 3-2. However, goalkeeper David Morton would be called for pulling the ball under water with under two minutes left, allowing LMU's Edgaras Asajavicius to convert a penalty shot to even the score at three apiece heading into the half.

LMU increased it's lead back to two on consecutive goals by Mark Menis and Matt Venner to open the third quarter. Lukas Syka stopped the bleeding for the Tritons, placing a shot into the upper corner to make it 5-4 in favor of the Lions with 1:49 left.

After UCSD fought off LMU's first possession of the final period, Donohoe drew an ejection to give the Tritons a man-advantage. Donohoe took the quick restart and found Saber once again along the left side, but Saber's shot attempt skipped high over the bar.

The Tritons would be forced to kill a penalty of their own the next time down the pool, but would be rewarded with another man-advantage when Colin Waters of LMU was ejected for second time in the match. UCSD clanged a shot off the crossbar, but came away once again with nothing. The Tritons were 1-for-10 in the contest with a man-advantage.

"It was dissapointing because it seemed like every time we had a shot to tie or take the lead, we just couldn't convert or a call would make it go the other way," said Harper.

UCSD looked as if it had held steady after another Lions' possession, but Venner's shot off the crossbar dropped directly to LMU's Jon Colton about two yards out. Colton fired off a backhanded shot with a defender on his back and was able to beat Morton to make it 6-4 LMU.

Donohoe answered to bring the Tritons within one with 4:15 remaining in the contest and UCSD would eventually gain another man-advantage when Colton was called for his third ejection of the match with 2:30 remaining.

The Tritons tossed the ball around the perimeter out of a timeout. Donohoe faked a shot at the point and tossed it over to Saber, who attempted a shot to the back post. LMU's Gavin Wild got his left wrist to the attempt and sent the Lions on a fast break toward the Triton goal. Albert Samuels would score with 1:44 left to put LMU back up by two.

Michalko responded quickly for the Tritons, backhanding a shot to the front post past Wild to make it 7-6 with 1:26 left.

After UCSD forced a Lion turnover 30 seconds later, Saber attempted to lob a pass to David Higginson who had put himself in great position to score. However, Higginson could not reach the pass because of what seemed to be a LMU defender pulling him into the water. The Triton bench protested, but LMU came away unscathed.

UCSD would have a final chance to tie the match, but Butler's shot attempt from 11 meters out was blocked by Samuels as time expired.

The Tritons will be back in action Saturday, September 10 when they travel to face Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Game 1 - UCSD 14, Redlands 4

Michalko was one of four Tritons to score multiple goals in the match. Donohoe, Danny Lorch and William Brown tallied two scores apiece. Morton stopped 11 shots in goal.

Lorch opened the offensive onslaught for the Tritons, scoring on their first possesion and then adding another with 4:40 to play in the first. Saber assisted on a score by Donohoe and then added a goal of his own with 4:55 to play in the second quarter on a hook shot from three meters out.

Redlands (0-1) finally got on the board with 4:26 remaining in the half, but Michalko added a pair of the goals to help the Tritons make it 6-1 heading into the halftime break.

The teams traded goals to open the second half before Josh Stiling made it 8-2 with 4:25 left in the third. Head coach Denny Harper called for a mass substitution following the goal, allowing many of the younger Tritons to get some action early in the season.

Brown would find the net twice before the end of the period and John Butler beat the keeper to advance the lead to 11-2. The Bulldogs responded by scoring two of the first three goals of the final stanza, but Michalko, Shane Troutman and Luke Syka each scored to put the contest out of reach.

Game 2 - UCSD 9, Air Force 4

Saber cracked a scoreless tie with 2:18 remaining in the first period and was followed by Donohoe's first goal of the match. Air Force brought it back to 2-1 at the end of the first period and then tied the match 2-2 on a goal by Josh Stedman less than a minute into the second frame.

Saber, Butler, Donohoe and Stiling scored consecutive goals for the Tritons as UCSD increased its lead to 6-3 by the end of the half.

Neither team drew an ejection in the third period as Donohoe and Butler increased the lead to 8-3 with four minutes to play. Air Force tallied a final goal before the end of the period, but Morton shutout the Falcons in the final stanza.

David Higginson scored his first career goal a minute into the final period, providing the exclamation point in the 9-4 victory.

Game 3 - UCSD 15, Cal Lutheran 6

Graham Saber scored three unanswered goals in the first quarter as the No. 12 UC San Diego men's water polo team improved to 3-0 with a 15-6 win over Cal Lutheran at the Triton Invitational on Sunday morning.

Lance Curtiss matched Saber's hat trick with three second half goals. Nine Tritons found the back of the net and David Morton stopped 10 shots in goal.

Curtiss notched the first of his three second half goals 42 seconds into the second half. After the teams traded scores, Curtiss added his second of the quarter with under three minutes to play to make it 10-3 UCSD. 69 seconds into the fourth, Curtiss beat Danny Mock from the penalty spot to seal the hat trick.

CLU's Brandon Gross became the third player to complete his hat trick on the day, scoring three goals in under two minutes to make it 12-6.

Brown added his second of the morning and Alec Williams finished the match off with the first two goals of his Triton career, giving UCSD a final 15-6 advantage.

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