LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The No. 20 UC San Diego women's water polo team split its pair of non-conference matches on Sunday afternoon against Fresno Pacific and No. 9 Arizona State, taking down the Sunbirds, 10-8, before falling to the Sun Devils, 11-8.
The Tritons put together a 2-1 record on the weekend, including its win over Brown on Friday evening, moving their overall record to 11-15 in 2011. Despite its pair of victories over the Bears and Sunbirds, UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp seemed much more impressed with the Tritons' performance in the narrow loss to the Sun Devils.
"When you have games that you lose, it's tough to have the players find things positive that you do in them," said Kreutzkamp. "We Beat Brown and we beat Fresno Pacific, but I don't think we really played well in those games. We came out with a lot of enthusiasm against some really talented Arizona State players and we really challenged them all over the pool."
Arizona State scored two goals within the opening minute of UCSD's second clash of the day. Sarah Lizotte would hit the post and Natalie Peng forced a fingertip save from ASU keeper Ianneta Hutchinson, but UCSD was unable to score and found itself down 3-0 just six minutes in.
Lizotte finally broke the Triton stalemate, firing her third goal of the day past Hutchinson's left shoulder. ASU would hit the crossbar on its next shot attempt, allowing the Tritons to force a counterattack on the long rebound. Kirsten Bates drove the ball down the ride side and lifted a pass for Lizotte at two meters. The Sun Devil defender got her hand to the ball, but the deflection trickled to Katherine Biehle who confidently forced in the shot to make it 3-2.
ASU would add another goal with a 6-on-5 advantage the next time down the pool and Lynlee Smith scored to force the ASU lead back to three at 5-2. UCSD's Jessica Tran released a shot from eight meters that looked good as it snuck through the defense, but Hutchinson reached out her left fist to punch the ball out of play.
ASU would turn the ball over on its final possession of the half and Kreutzkamp called timeout to dial up a play with 23 seconds remaining. Lizotte would fake a shot and find Melissa Bartow off the restart. The freshman powered the shot in from close range to make it 5-3 heading into the break.
ASU and UCSD traded 6-on-5 goals to open the second half before the Sun Devils scored four of the next five goals to extend their lead to 10-6 heading into the final quarter. The Tritons managed to outscore the Sun Devils, 2-1, in the fourth on goals from Hanalei Crowell and Lizotte, but UCSD would fall to 0-14 in 2011 against ranked opponents.
"We didn't back down anywhere against ASU and I'm really happy with the way we played," said Kreutzkamp.
UCSD used a younger lineup against Fresno Pacific with the hope that the Triton starters could rest a little before their evening tilt with ASU. Sydney Fitzpatrick opened the match with six first quarter saves and Peng scored, but a pair of missed Triton penalty shots and a 3-1 deficit early in the half forced Kruetzkamp's hand, and the usual UCSD starters took over with 6:30 left in the half.
The Sunbirds extended their lead to four after the UCSD substitution, but goals from Crowell, Tran and Lizotte evened the score at 4-4 heading into the break.
Felicia Orozco would help the Tritons gain their first lead of the day, lofting in a shot off the bottom of the crossbar to make it 5-4 just 1:30 in. Orozco extended UCSD's lead to two on the Tritons' next possession by firing in a left-handed shot high and to the short post from the right flank.
Both teams would trade a pair of goals as UCSD and FPU took an 8-6 scoreline into the final stanza. FPU came out firing in the fourth as Katie Rayner and Jennifer Cobb beat Fitzpatrick to make it 8-8 with 5:47 remaining.
UCSD drew Jaimie Lugo's third ejection of the day just 15 seconds later, allowing Bates to convert from five meters to give the Tritons a 9-8 advantage. A minute later, Bartow added an insurance goal out of a timeout to give UCSD its final 10-8 lead.
UCSD will be back in action next weekend at The Bronco, April 9-10, at Santa Clara University.