LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The No. 20 UC San Diego women's water polo team held off a late rally to take down the Brown Bears, 11-9, on Friday evening at Canyonview Pool.
Kirsten Bates scored four goals for her team-high third time this season and Katherine Biehle scored three times as the Tritons improved to 10-14 on the year. Brown drops to 8-11 overall. Six different UCSD players and two freshmen would find the back of the net on the evening.
"We brought in ten new people into the program, nine of them freshman, and there's no way they weren't going to work themselves into the line-up somehow," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "It's a testament to the older girls to help the younger girls and be able to balance out leadership and talent."
The Bears would score on its first possesion of the game, but UCSD responded with four consecutive goals from four different Tritons to take a 4-1 lead after the first period. Bates opened the scoring less than a minute in and Sarah Lizotte found Biehle along the left flank to make it 2-1 with 4:51 to play. Lizotte would score her sixth goal in just her fourth game this season and add another assist on Melissa Bartow's strike as the Tritons opened with a three-goal advantage.
The teams traded turnovers to open the second frame until an offensive foul on Bartow gave the Bears an opportunity to break. Brown's Kate Woods would get in behind the Triton defense, forcing UCSD goalie Allie Taylor to make a pair of point-blank saves. However, Taylor would be called for a foul, allowing Woods to convert a penalty shot from five meters, making it 4-2.
The teams traded goals until Natalie Peng floated a tear-drop over Bears' goalie Sarah Shin to make it 6-3 with 3:24 left in the half. Bates would use her strong position at the set to force Rita Bullwinkle to be ejected and then convert the Triton 6-on-5 for the hat-trick while extending the Triton lead to four with 1:22 left. The Bears would answer just seven seconds later to make it 7-4 heading into the half.
Peng would pick-off a cross court pass from Shin and draw an ejection to give the Tritons a 6-on-5 advantage less than 30 seconds into the second half. She relayed the pass up the pool to Leah Gonzales who was one-on-one with the Brown keeper, but Shin got a hand to Gonzales' attempt to squash the threat. Brown added a goal with a man-advantage to bring the Bears the closest they had been since 2:08 to play in the first quarter at 7-5.
However, Bartow, Bates and Kelsey Schultz scored goals in the last three minutes of the third to open a 10-5 advantage. Woods scored her second penalty shot of the day before Hanalei Crowell assisted on Biehle's third goal of the game with just four seconds left to play in the third to make it 11-6 UCSD.
"Our swimming ability really helped us in that third quarter," said Kreutzkamp. "We thought that [Brown] was ripe to be counterattacked so we put some good swimmers in there and it worked out for us."
Woods would add her fifth goal of the game three minutes into the final stanza and Katharine Booher scored her second goal of the match to bring the Bears within three with three minutes left to play. Katherine Stanton would bring the score to 11-9 when she capitalized on a loose ball in front of the Triton cage with 49 seconds left. Brown would have an opportunity to inch closer, but Taylor came up with her 11th save of the day to preserve the Triton victory.
"I thought we played flat in the fourth quarter, I didn't like it at all," said Kreutzkamp. "We can't back ourselves into a win like that going forward."
UCSD returns to Canyonview Pool on Sunday against Fresno Pacific and No. 9 Arizona State at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., respectively.