LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The No.18 UC San Diego women's water polo team will face No.2 USC in its opening match of the UC Irvine Invitational this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. The 16-team tournament is set for Saturday and Sunday, February 26-27, and will feature 15 teams in the CWPA Top 20.
UCSD (6-5) and USC (6-1) are in Pool B along with No. 7 San Diego State (9-3) and tournament host No. 10 UCI (6-3). The winner of the SDSU-UCI match will face the winner of UCSD-USC at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday in the Championship Bracket. The losers of each game will square-off at 3:15 p.m. in the Consolation Bracket. The winner of the Consolation Bracket will earn ninth place.
Pool A consists of No. 1 Stanford, No. 9 Arizona State, No. 11 San Jose State and Cal State Bakersfield. Teams in Pool C will be No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 LMU, No. 12 Long Beach State and No. 17 UC Davis. No. 4 Cal, No. 5 Hawaii, No. 13 Cal State Northridge and No. 15 UC Santa Barbara round-out Pool D.
UCSD fell 13-7 in its most recent match against No. 6 Loyola Marymount last Friday in Canyonview Pool. Felicia Orozco
scored three goals and dished out two assists, but the Tritons could not climb back from a four-goal deficit in the second quarter. Melissa Bartow
scored two goals on the day while Hanalei Crowell
and Kirsten Bates
tallied a goal apiece. Bates drew four of the Lions' eight ejections, allowing the Tritons to score on three of those opportunities.
USC will dive into the pool on Saturday riding a three-match winning streak. The Trojans' lone loss this season was by one goal against No.1 Stanford in the championship match of the Stanford Invitational on February 6. The all-time series between UCSD and USC stands at 9-7 in the Trojans' favor, with USC winning the last nine contests. The last time the Tritons came out on top against the Trojans was on February 4, 1996 when UCSD beat USC, 10-4.
The loss on February 18 to the Lions marked the Tritons' first blemish against a WWPA squad in 2011 but they remain in second place in the WWPA standings at 3-1. LMU is in first place at 8-2 overall and 3-0 in WWPA competition while Cal State East Bay rests in third place at 5-5 overall, 3-2 in the WWPA. UCSD defeated CSUEB on February 11 in the Tritons' conference opener at Canyonview, 8-6.
UCSD went 2-2 in the 16-team Triton Invitational at Canyonview Aquatic Center February 12-13, taking down Santa Clara and Maryland while falling to No. 15 Hartwick and No. 14 UC Santa Barbara. The Tritons earned 10th place, led by 10 goals from Crowell.
Crowell leads the Tritons in with 25 goals, 12 assists and 22 steals while taking a team-high 65 shots. Bates is second on the team in goals, assists and steals with 18, 10, and 17, respectively. She has drawn three penalty shots this season, putting her career total at 14 and tying her for sixth place all-time in school history. Bartow leads all UCSD freshmen in scoring with 13 goals on the year.
A link to tournament coverage is available here
. Match winners and an updated schedule will be posted throughout the weekend as the tournament progresses.