LA JOLLA, Calif. – The 10th-ranked UC San Diego men’s water polo team found itself down 6-1 in the middle of the second quarter before storming back to beat the 14th-ranked Santa Clara Broncos, 10-9, Friday night at Canyonview.
UCSD improves its record to 12-10 overall and 4-0 in Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) play with the win, while Santa Clara drops to 13-11 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Joe Dietrich, Tician Toplak and Luca De Vivo each tallied two goals in the win to lead the Tritons, while Cameron Ravanbach (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) blocked 15 shots in the cage.
UCSD came out slow for the second consecutive game in front of the home crowd, falling behind 6-1 with 2:45 remaining in the second period. The Tritons managed three straight goals, one apiece from David Higginson (San Diego/The Bishop's School), Dietrich and De Vivo, to cut the halftime deficit to 6-4.
“I don’t know what was going on there in terms of why we were so lackadaisical,” said head coach Denny Harper. “It’s kind of what we do, but it was a tremendous comeback to then go on an 8-1 run. That generally doesn’t happen.”
After the Broncos managed another score in the third period, UCSD continued to cut into the SCU lead before finding the equalizer from Dan Lorch, who played huge minutes in the game with UCSD’s Matt Michalko (San Diego/The Bishop's School) suffering from illness. After tying the match at seven apiece, Dietrich poured in a goal to give the Tritons the lead for good. De Vivo added a score at the end of the third quarter to put the lead at 9-7 in favor of UCSD.
“After we got some people in there that were driving and moving and creating a lot of activity, it wore them out,” said Harper. “Tiki [Toplak] and Dan [Lorch] played awesome tonight inside. But, that was our plan as a swimming team compared to them as a large post-up team to wear them out. We were able to take advantage of some of the perimeter play that they have as well.”
The final frame was a battle, as Toplak began the period by powering a shot into the net after gaining position inside to give UCSD some insurance with 6:00 minutes remaining. Santa Clara responded with two goals to cut the Triton lead to one, 10-9, with 4:17 left on the clock.
The Tritons held off the final Bronco attempt following a timeout with 29 seconds remaining with a Ravanbach steal at the two-meter line to seal the victory.
To complement the six combined goals from Dietrich, Toplak and De Vivo, the Tritons’ received scores from Chase Cockerill, Andy Moore, Lorch and Higginson in the win.
Santa Clara was led by three goals from Patrick Weiss and 11 saves from Matt Pritchett, respectively.
UCSD closed the match on a 9-3 run to stay perfect in conference play with one WWPA game remaining. If the Tritons defeat No. 17 UC Davis tomorrow at Canyonview at 1 p.m., UCSD will receive the top seed at the conference tournament on Nov. 22-24.
UCSD 1 3 5 1 - 10
SCU 2 4 1 2 - 9
UCSD: Joe Dietrich 2, Tician Toplak 2, Luca De Vivo 2, Dan Lorch 1, Chase Cockerill 1, David Higginson 1, Andy Moore 1
SCU: Patrick Weiss 3, Mark Davis 2, Theo Nasser 1, Jimmy Moore 1, Matt Godar 1, James Rude 1
UCSD: Cameron Ravanbach 15
SCU: Matt Pritchett 11