Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Rachel Brooks and the Tritons head North for the UC Irvine Invitational.
Tritons Face Top-Ranked Cardinal in Opening Game of UC Irvine Invitational
Release: Thursday 02/23/2012 
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 19th-ranked UC San Diego women's water polo team faces the top team in the nation, No. 1 Stanford, to open the UC Irvine Invitational on Saturday.

Games 11-14
UC San Diego (7-3) vs. No. 1 Stanford (8-0)
Saturday, February 25 - 9:00 a.m.
Corona del Mar High School - Long Beach, Calif.
Tournament Central

The UC Irvine Invitational is set for Saturday and Sunday at Anteater Aquatic Complex and Corona del Mar High School. All 16 teams in the tournament are currently in the CWPA Top 20 and each of the Top 10 teams in the nation will be in attendance. UCSD is in Pool A with No. 1 Stanford, No. 8 San Jose State and No. 9 San Diego State. The Tritons open against the Cardinal at 9:00 a.m. on February 25, with the victor advancing to face the winner of SJSU-SDSU at 2:00 p.m. The losing squads of each match-up will clash at 3:15 p.m. UCSD went 1-3 at the 2011 UCI Invite and defeated Cal State Bakersfield 13-10 for 15th place.

UC San Diego upset then-No.18 Long Beach State on the road last Saturday, scoring all its goals in the first three quarters before holding on for a 9-7 win over the 49ers. Katherine Biehle led the way with three goals on the day and didn't miss a shot (3-for-3). Leah Gonzales pitched-in with a pair of scores and Jessica Tran added three assists. The win marked the third time in the last four games in which UCSD had topped LBSU, dating back to 2010. Allie Taylor registered nine saves in the cage and limited LBSU to two goals or less per quarter. After spending a week out of the Top 20, UCSD jumped back in at No. 19, while LBSU sits at No. 20.

Stanford and UC San Diego haven't met in two years, but the situation will be all too familiar compared to when these teams last clashed. Stanford, currently the top-ranked team in the CWPA Top 20, is the last No. 1 team that UCSD faced. That game was on February 27, 2010, in the opening game of the UC Irvine Invitational. Stanford prevailed 15-3. However, the Tritons were riding a three-game losing streak heading into the 2010 game against the Cardinal; this year, UCSD is on a three-game win streak.

The Tritons have dropped their last 15 games to the Cardinal over the years, but UCSD did win the first four games of the UCSD-Stanford series. Between February 26, 1994 and April 22, 1995, the Tritons went 4-0 against the Cardinal, outscoring their opponent 42-10 in the process. However, Stanford holds a 15-4 all-time advantage.

Interestingly, UCSD has secured nine steals in each game of its win streak. The Tritons are 4-1 in games in which they have nine steals in 2012. Their only loss was a 12-11 decision to Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday, February 11 at the Triton Invitational. UCSD beat Colorado State on January 26 to open the season and also had nine steals.

Senior Jessica Tran has seemed to reinvent her game after switching her number from 15 to 11 in the offseason. Tran currently leads the team with 23 assists on the season, one less than her entire 2011 total, and she has tallied an assist in all 10 games this year. She's registered at least three assists in three of her last five games. In addition, she ranks second on the team with 13 goals scored, six in the last four games.

Goalkeeper Allie Taylor and the Triton defense have kept their opponents under 10 goals in each game of the team's win streak. During the streak, Taylor has stopped 18 of her opponents' 27 shots (.667) while adding three steals and an assist. UCSD is 5-1 when holding its opponent under 10 scores.

UCSD set a new season high with six field blocks against Long Beach State ... UCSD's 7-3 record in its first ten contests is the team's best start in its first ten games since the 2003 Tritons began 8-2 ... Melissa Bartow leads the squad with 35 ejections drawn, a rate of 3.5 per game and a total that's three times more than any other Triton ... The Tritons are shooting .328 (97-for-296) as a team ... Kirsten Bates needs 34 more goals to move into fifth place all-time in scoring in UCSD history ...UCSD is 2-1 against ranked teams this year.

You've heard UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp on the pool deck, but now you can follow his own perspective on the team through 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

The UC San Diego women's water polo team record book is now live. Take a look here.

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