HAYWARD, Calif. -
The UC San Diego women's water polo team qualified for the Western Water Polo Association conference title match for the second consecutive season with a 9-7 win over Santa Clara in the WWPA Championships semifinals on Saturday morning at Chabot Community College.
UCSD (16-18) will advance to play No. 8 Loyola Marymount (26-8) in the WWPA Championship on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. LMU took down UCSD, 13-10, in the 2010 final.
Kirsten Bates registered a game-high four goals, one in each quarter. Sarah Lizotte notched a pair of goals while Hanalei Crowell, Felicia Orozco and Katherine Biehle rounded-out the Triton scoring with a goal apiece.
"Bates had a huge game," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "She scored four goals but just as importantly, she played great defense, particularly late, and had three steals."
Down 4-2 less than four minutes into the second quarter, UCSD utilized a series of defensive adjustments to put itself back into the game. Orozco scored out of a timeout and Bates added another on a 6-on-5 to bring the score to 4-4 heading into halftime.
"Even when we were down two early I wasn't too concerned," said Kreutzkamp. "We knew we matched up well with them and our defense would eventually bring us back."
Tied 6-6 at the start of the fourth, Bates added another goal with a man-advantage and Biehle scored her third fourth-quarter goal in tournament to give the Tritons a two goal lead. Claire Eadington answered to bring SCU back within one, but Lizotte clinched the win with an insurance goal with just 35 seconds remaining.
"We're excited about being in the championship game tomorrow," said Bates. "We've worked this whole year towards this and if we play our best game, we have a good shot ."