Photo by: Ken Grosse/UCSD Athletics
Sarah Lizotte is one of two ACWPC All-Americans to return for the Tritons in 2012.
Tritons Hit the Road to Open 2012 Season
Release: Tuesday 01/24/2012 
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 15 UC San Diego women's water polo team will head to Colorado State to take on the Rams in Western Water Polo Association play on Thursday, Jan. 26 before traveling to the University of Maryland, Jan. 28-29, for the Terrapin Invitational.

Game 1
No. 15 UC San Diego (0-0) vs. Colorado State (0-0)
Thursday, January 26 - 12:30 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center - Fort Collins, Colo.

Games 2-4
No. 15 UC San Diego (0-0) vs. Wagner (0-0)
Saturday, January 28 - 8:00 a.m.
No. 15 UC San Diego (0-0) vs. No. 20 Maryland (0-0)
Saturday, January 28 - 2:00 p.m.
No. 15 UC San Diego (0-0) vs. Marist (0-0)
Sunday, January 29 - 9:00 a.m.
Eppley Recreation Center - College Park, Md.

UCSD will host the annual Triton Invitational, February 11-12 at Canyonview Aquatic Center. 11 of the Top 20 teams in the CWPA Preseason Coaches' Poll will be in attendance. UCSD is 12-12 overall at the Triton Invitational over the past six seasons. Click here for ticket information, directions and tentative schedule. Match-ups will be determined the week of the tournament.

You've heard UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp on the pool deck, but now you can follow his own perspective on the team on Twitter. Follow @UCSDcoachK all season for an in-depth look inside the Triton women's water polo program. In addition, you can always keep in touch with UCSD Athletics through @UCSDtritons and

After going 9-1 in WWPA play in 2011, the Tritons kick-off the 2012 season with a conference tilt at Colorado State this Thursday. The Rams took fifth-place at the WWPA tournament a season ago and recently collected the fourth-most points in the WWPA Preseason Coaches' poll. There's been a changing of the guard in Fort Collins; CSU is under the leadership of first-year head coach Christopher Woodard and is without last season's top scorers, Orsi Nadasdy and Ali Pavlik. Kallie Berry led all Ram returners with 38 goals in 2011. UCSD is 6-1 against CSU since 2008 and 8-1 all-time against the Rams. The two teams met once last year at The Bronco in Santa Clara, Calif. on April 10. The Tritons trailed 4-2 at the half, but rebounded with four goals in the third quarter while holding the Rams scoreless to take a 6-4 advantage at the start of the fourth. Eight different Tritons scored in the game as UCSD prevailed 10-6 to improve to 8-1 in conference play.

UCSD travels to the University of Maryland for the Terrapin Invitational Saturday and Sunday after visiting CSU. The round-robin style format will pit the Tritons against Wagner (Saturday, January 28, 8:00 a.m.), No. 20 Maryland (Saturday, January 28, 2:00 p.m.) and Marist (Sunday, January 29, 9:00 a.m.). UCSD is 16-1 all-time against the three teams it will face at the Terrapin Invite. The Tritons downed the Terrapins 9-5 at last season's Triton Invitational on Feb. 13, 2011 behind a pair of hat tricks from Hanalei Crowell and Felicia Orozco. Natalie Peng also scored two goals in the contest. UCSD hasn't played Marist or Wagner since the 2010 Aztec Invitational. Kirsten Bates registered a hat trick in an 11-6 win over Wagner before tallying five goals in the Tritons' 9-5 victory over Marist the following day. UCSD has never lost to Marist or Wagner.

The Tritons are coming off arguably their most successful season since the NCAA recognized women's water polo as a championship sport in 2001. The team went 18-20 in 2011, but the overall record pales in comparison to what the Tritons were able to accomplish as a program. UCSD earned the No. 2 seed for the WWPA Tournament thanks to a 9-1 conference record and eventually upset perennial WWPA champion Loyola Marymount, 13-11, in the title match to earn the Tritons' first WWPA championship since 2000. Moreover, UCSD advanced to its first-ever appearance at the NCAA Championships by way of the WWPA's automatic berth. The Tritons went 1-2 at the NCAA Tournament, defeating Iona 15-9 to take home seventh place. UCSD finished 2011 at No. 14 in the final Collegiate Water Polo Association's national poll.

The Tritons return 12 letterwinners from the 2011 squad, including ACWPC All-Americans Kirsten Bates and Sarah Lizotte. Bates, a senior, has led the Tritons in scoring each of the last two seasons and registered 61 goals and a .415 shooting percentage in 2011. After missing the first half of her freshman season, Lizotte finished with 46 goals on the year and led the Tritons in scoring in 10 of 11 matches between Apr. 3 and May 1; she accounted for hat tricks on eight occasions during that time span. Natalie Peng returns to the pool for her senior season after leading the Tritons with 10 penalties drawn last season. Melissa Bartow, who led the Tritons with 66 ejections drawn, will also return for her sophomore season. Junior goalkeeper Allie Taylor (196 saves in 2011) is back between the pipes for UCSD.

UCSD was picked to finish second in a preseason poll of WWPA coaches, it was announced Monday. Loyola Marymount received 62 total points and six first-place votes to become the favorite to win its ninth WWPA title in 12 years. The Tritons garnered three first-place votes and 59 points, despite topping LMU 13-11 to win the 2011 WWPA title and earn the school's first appearance at the NCAA National Championships. UCSD received its highest national preseason ranking since 2008 when the Tritons were named No. 15 in the preseason CWPA poll on January 4.

WWP Triton Invite 2018