LA JOLLA, Calif. - Kirsten Bates
scored with under three minutes to play and the No. 17 UC San Diego women's water polo team held-on to beat Long Beach State, 9-8, Friday evening in non-conference play at Canyonview Pool.
The victory improves UCSD to 3-2 overall on the year. LBSU drops to 0-2.
Goalkeeper Kristen Ostosh registered 10 saves on the day, including a clutch stop on the 49ers' final possession to preserve the Triton win. Kirsten Bates led UCSD with three goals, while Hanalei Crowell and Felicia Orozco added two scores apiece.
"I thought that we responded well to a very physical game," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "Long Beach never quit and kept coming at us, but our girls stayed with the game plan and we were fortunate to come out on top."
After battling to a 5-5 tie at the break, UCSD fell behind in the third before tying things up during a 6-on-5 with 4:24 left to play. During the following 49ers possession, Long Beach was forced into an offensive turnover. The Tritons then drew another exclusion to gain a 6-on-5. After a UCSD timeout, Bates scored off a Crowell pass with 3:41 left in the period to put UCSD ahead 7-6. The Tritons would not trail the rest of the game. In a bit of foreshadowing, it was strong defense at the end of the third that allowed UCSD to take the one-goal margin into the final period.
In the fourth, Crowell nearly made it a two-score game when her shot went wide left with 7:25 to play. Long Beach then came out of a timeout with a 6-on-5, but Ostosh came up with a stop despite the 49ers advantage.
"We found out first quarter that their two-meter was pretty strong, so we had to switch up," said Ostosh. "I'm really proud of my defense for being able to change modes and go from a press to a zone. The defense was so solid today."
LBSU tied the game at 7-7 with 5:30 remaining as Lauren Sieprath's shot soared just over the outstretched arms of Ostosh. The Tritons, however, answered almost immediately, as Natalie Peng scored down and out with 5:02 to play.
After the 49ers tied things at 8-8 with 2:45 to play, UCSD again responded on the ensuing possession. This time, it was Bates taking advantage of a 6-on-5 to score her third goal of the game, squeezing the ball just inside the right post.
On the next LBSU possession, Ostosh tipped the first attempt out of bounds and the 49ers next shot went off the post. The Tritons then took the clock to under a minute while on offense. Long Beach called timeout with 53 seconds left to play and came out of the gate looking to even the score. However, the UCSD defense again prevailed at the end of the period, as Ostosh recorded a huge block and the Tritons were able to hold on for the one-goal victory.
"At the timeout [before the final defensive possession], Brad told us ‘there's only 50 seconds left. We make this defensive stop right now, all we have to do is sit on the ball and we're home free,'" said Ostosh. "So, it was just a matter of doing whatever possible to make that block, doing whatever possible to stop that shot."
The Tritons open Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) play next week against Cal State East Bay on Friday, Feb. 11 at 6:00 p.m. in Canyonview Pool. The following two days, UCSD will host the 16-team Triton Invitational, Feb. 12-13.