LA JOLLA, Calif. - Second-seeded UC San Diego used a 5-0 run midway through the first half on its way to a 12-7 victory over seventh-seeded Sonoma State in the quarterfinals of the Western Water Polo Association Championships on Friday afternoon at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
The Tritons (20-13, 9-2) move on to face sixth-seeded Cal State Monterey Bay in the semifinals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CSUMB upset No. 3 CSU Bakersfield 10-9 earlier in the day.
Kirsten Bates led the Tritons with three goals and Katherine Biehle added a pair. Sarah Lizotte broke the single-season scoring record, converting her 85th goal late in the first quarter.
After SSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Malina Lorring and Lindsay Rangel, Biehle found the upper-right corner from three meters to cut the lead in half with 2:07 left in the frame. SSU answered on its next possession, but UCSD would hold the Seawolves scoreless for the next eight minutes of the game.
Bates scored on a backhand to get the Tritons within one at the 1:42 mark. After trading turns with the ball, UCSD drew an exclusion in the backcourt and subsequently called timeout with 13 seconds on the clock. Out of the break, Lizotte floated the ball over an outstretched Ariel Lockshaw to make it 3-3 and give the sophomore the school's single-season scoring record.
"[SSU] is scrappy and they have a lot of talent. If we don't come out ready to go, they'll jump out on us, which they did," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "A lot of times it's first-game jitters and we just have to get over them and stay the course."
Jessica Tran handed the Tritons their first lead of the day, sneaking a shot under Lockshaw's right arm at the 5:26 mark. Three minutes later, Rachel Brooks tossed the ball inside to Melissa Bartow, who pushed off her defenders, turned, and fired a rocket into the side-netting. Biehle added another with 10 seconds to play to make it 6-3.
SSU got one back at the half-time buzzer, as Michelle Pollastrini placed a shot in the top left corner from nearly half-tank.
The Tritons shutout the Seawolves in the third frame, capitalizing on three man-advantage goals from Leah Gonzales, Bates and Brooks.
Bates drew an ejection on UCSD's first possession of the final stanza and capped off a 4-0 Triton scoring run by beating Lockshaw to the left post. Hannah Guthman got into the scoring act with four minutes left before Bartow scored on a backhand to make it 12-6. SSU's Colette Reid scored on a 6-on-5 with 42 seconds remaining.
The two squads combined for 28 ejections and three players from each team fouled out of the game. UCSD was 6-for-17 on man-advantages. Taylor made nine stops for the Tritons.
"I'm proud of our gals. They knew all week long that this was going to be a big test. Sonoma was going to come in here and not lay down for anybody," said Kreutzkamp.
Up next for UCSD is CSUMB. The Tritons downed the Otters 12-8 at The Bronco on April 14, the only other previous meeting this year.
"Monterey Bay plays a system you don't see every day, but we squeaked out a win over them a couple weeks ago. I've got some homework to do on them tonight for sure," said Kreutzkamp.
Top-seed Loyola Marymount and No. 4-seed Cal State East Bay will face each other in the opposite semifinal. The winner of UCSD-CSUMB and LMU-CSUEB will play at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday for the WWPA Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.