Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Down 11-9 with under three minutes left, Graham Saber scored with 1:36 left to play on a Triton 6-on-5 to bring UCSD within one. John Butler tied the match with 55 seconds left to play to make it 11-11. 50 seconds later, Saber registered his fourth and final goal with just five seconds left on the clock to give the Tritons the win.
The victory marks the third time this year that UCSD has taken down Air Force. The Tritons improve to 9-3 overall and 7-2 in Western Water Polo Association play. The Falcons drop to 4-8 overall and 2-4 in WWPA play.
UCSD jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by David Higginson and Luke Syka, but Air Force scored five of the match's next six goals to take a 5-3 lead at the first break.
Butler finally pulled the Tritons even at 6-6 with a goal at the 4:31 mark and the teams battled to a 7-7 scoreline at halftime.
Brian Donohoe gave the Tritons a one-goal lead just over a minute into the second half, but the Falcons responded with three unanswered goals to take a 10-8 lead heading into the final stanza.
Matthew Michalko made it 10-9 just a minute into the fourth quarter. Brad Rajchel responded with what appeared to be the game-winner for the Falcons to increase Air Force's lead back to two with 2:54 left. However, it would be the last time Air Force would score.
Down but not out, Saber and Butler scored to tie it with less than a minute left. Saber then converted on the Tritons' last possession to give UCSD the narrow 12-11 win.
The Tritons continue play at the Socal Invitational on Sunday. Opponents and game times are still to be determined.
The Gauchos scored five consectuive goals to open the match, taking a 6-2 lead into the second quarter. UCSB expanded its lead to six just minutes into the second, but Joe Dietrich and Graham Saber answered with consecutive goals to make it 8-4 with four minutes remaining in the half.
The Tritons would take a four-goal deficit into the second half. Saber brought UCSD within three with his third goal of the match just a minute and a half into the third quarter, but it would be the closest the Tritons would get the rest of the way.
UCSB scored four of the match's next five goals to take a 14-8 lead with five minutes remaining in regulation. Lance Curtiss and Luke Syka accounted for fourth-quarter goals, but UCSD eventually fell by six.
David Morton registered six saves in goal for the Tritons.