LA JOLLA, Calif. - David Higginson scored the first goal of his Triton career with 1:08 left as the No. 12 UC San Diego men's water polo team came back to beat No. 15 United States Naval Academy, 16-15, on Friday evening in Canyonview Pool.
The Tritons trailed by as much as three in the fourth quarter, but Graham Saber scored back-to-back goals to make it 15-15 with 1:36 left to play. Brian Donohoe stole the ball off Navy's next offensive set, forcing Cort Jones into an ejection on a foul to stop a fast break. However, Donohoe pulled a quick restart and tossed the ball to Higginson, who was ahead of the pack.
One-on-one with the keeper, Higginson faked a shot to the keeper's left before tucking it away to the lower left corner.
"It has to be an incredible moment for David," said UCSD head coach Denny Harper. "He's come in, worked hard all year and he's a great kid."
Higginson's most relevant play may not have been the last goal of the match. Down 14-11 in the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen had a two-on-one fastbreak and it looked as if Navy would take a four-goal lead. But, Higginson caught Navy's Kyle Wertz from behind to force a turnover. Saber scored with a man-advantage the next time down the pool to start the Triton comeback.
Saber finished with six goals in the match. John Butler scored four times and Donohoe added a hat trick of his own.
UCSD opened the match with six unanswered goals and took a 6-1 advantage into the second quarter. However, Navy would recover by going on a 10-3 run to take an 11-9 lead with 4:17 left in the third quarter. Donohoe responded with his third goal of the match, but Wertz and Stevie Ray added goals to give Navy its biggest lead of the match, 13-10, two minutes later.
Saber traded goals with the Midshipmen and Butler scored his final goal of the match to bring the Tritons within 14-13 with 3:48 left to play. Pat Seipp increased the lead back to two 14 seconds later, but it would be the last time Navy scored. Saber tallied a goal on a penalty shot and added another from six meters out to pull even, 15-15, with about 90 seconds remaining.
UCSD improves to 7-1 in 2011 while Navy drops to 5-2. The Tritons will be back in action on Thursday, September 22, when they take on the Lions of Loyola Marymount at 6:00 p.m. in Canyonview Pool.
The first 1,000 fans to Thursday's match will get FREE THUNDERSTICKS! Be sure to arrive early.
UCSD 14, Whittier 4
The 12th-ranked UC San Diego men's water polo team held Whittier scoreless for the first 12 minutes of Friday morning's match at Canyonview Pool as the Tritons topped the Poets, 14-4, in Western Water Polo Association play.
Graham Saber registered a first-half hat trick, his fourth of the season, as UCSD improved to 5-1 in conference play and 6-1 overall. Whitter dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in WWPA play.
UCSD came out strong defensively against Whittier, as David Morton stonewalled a point-blank shot from Michael Eachus on the Poets' first possession. A field block would send the Tritons on a fast break the next time down the pool and Saber finished the odd-man break with a goal to the front post.
Danny Lorch drew an ejection with 3:52 left in the first period and Brian Donohoe converted from the top of the Tritons' offensive set to make it 2-0. John Butler and William Brown added scores as UCSD took a 4-0 lead into the first break of the match.
Butler tallied another goal just over a minute into the second period, scoring with his left hand to the keeper's near post to make it 5-0. Whittier would be called for another ejection less than a minute later. Freshman Matthew Michalko set-up Saber out of a Triton timeout, giving the senior an opportunity to skip a shot under Poet goalkeeper Chad Evenrud's right arm to make it 6-0.
Eachus finally got the Poets on the board, glancing a back-handed shot past an unsuspecting Morton. Lukas Syka answered on the Tritons next possession, pounding-in a shot from three meters.
Saber made it 8-1 with 54 seconds remaining in the half, floating in a high-arching shot to the back post over Evenrud off a Triton fast break. Saber leads all Tritons with 22 goals in seven matches.
Whitter tacked-on another before the half to make the scoreline 8-2 at the half.
Lorch scored back-to-back goals to open the second half as a part of a 4-0 run by the Tritons. Morton held the Poets scoreless in the third period and Lance Curtiss added a goal as the Tritons took an 11-2 lead into the final stanza. Morton finished with six saves.
Cameron Ravanbach took over for Morton in the fourth quarter and stopped the first three shots of his Triton career. Tyler Ranj also scored the first goal of his career to cap the Triton run. Whittier finally scored in the second half with 6:42 to play to bring it within 12-3.
Joe Dietrich and Alec Williams accounted for the final Triton goals as UCSD led 14-3, but Whittier would sneak a final goal with less than a minute to play to make it 14-4 at the final whistle. Shane Troutman and Dane Sequeira recorded assists in the fourth period.