LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 18 UC San Diego women's water polo team captured a 9-4 win over Marist on the eve of the annual Triton Invitational on Friday night in non-league play at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
UCSD (4-1) held Marist (0-4) to just two goals in each half while holding its opponent to under 10 goals for just the second time this season.
"We were giving up double digits every single game we played coming in so our number one goal tonight was defense," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "We gave up only a goal a quarter and kept our ejections under five so that will give us a chance to win every game. I was really happy with the way we played defense tonight."
Katherine Biehle and Jessica Tran tallied first-quarter scores for the Tritons, as UCSD jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Red Foxes cut the deficit to one twice in the second quarter as the teams traded goals, but Kirsten Bates and Sarah Lizotte scored with less than 90 seconds remaining in to half to hand UCSD a 5-2 lead at the break.
Goalkeeper Allie Taylor blocked a penalty shot that would have cut the Triton lead to one late in the half, one of her 10 saves on the evening.
"I thought Allie in the cage did great. When you hold another team to only four goals and you don't let in any goals which you should have got, it's great. There was a couple of lobs and crazy shots that went in, but that's going to happen. I was really impressed with her passing as well," said Kreutzkamp.
The Tritons put the game out of reach early in the third quarter. Melissa Bartow powered-in a shot from close range with a pair of defenders draped on her before Hannah Guthman set up Rachel Brooks in front of an open goal with a cross-court pass on a fast break to make it 7-2.
Marist brought it to 7-3 with a floater over Taylor's outstretched arm, but Bartow responded with another turn-around goal to give UCSD a five-goal lead less than a minute into the final stanza. Bates tacked-on another with a man-advantage for UCSD's final goal of the game.
UCSD returns to action at the Triton Invitational tomorrow morning for a first-round battle with No. 16 UC Santa Barbara at 9:50 a.m. The winner of that match will face the winner of No. 5 Arizona State and Cal State Bakersfield.
"We're going to have to step up our game for sure because if we make the mistakes that we made tonight against (UC) Santa Barbara, they'll expose us. If we put our shots away we will be competitive, especially if we play defense the way we played tonight," said Kreutzkamp. .