SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It was a tale of two halves as the 14th-ranked University of California San Diego men’s water polo team escaped with an 11-10 win over No. 20 Santa Clara in a Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) matchup, Thursday at Sullivan Aquatic Center. After a 7-3 lead at halftime, the Tritons were outscored 7-4 in the second half and escaped with a one-goal victory.
With the win, UC San Diego remains perfect in conference action at 5-0 and improves to 13-6 overall. The Broncos drop to 11-13 overall and 2-3 in the WWPA.
Senior Nick Alexander led UCSD with three goals, his third hat trick of the year. Sophomore Kevin Asplund pitched in two. Senior Jack Ellinthorpe, freshman Noah Carniglia, junior Arman Momdzhyan, freshman Cooper Milton, junior Nassim Hmeidan and freshman Skyler Munatones put away one each. Sophomore goalie Jack Turner amassed 12 saves.
Reilly May was SCU’s leading scorer with three. Graham McClone and Will Grant each had two. Bronco goalie Keaton Fox compiled 12 saves.
UCSD led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. SCU scored a goal on its opening possession of the game, but the Tritons were able to answer back with two from Momdzhyan and Munatones.
The Tritons started to pull away in the second period, putting five on the scoreboard. After the Broncos tied the game, 2-2, UCSD got goals from Ellinthorpe and Asplund to go up by two. After a power-play goal from SCU cut the margin to one, UCSD found the back of the cage three times, including one on a five-meter penalty shot converted by Asplund, to go up by four at halftime.
The Broncos grabbed the first two goals of the second half to cut the Triton lead to two. Things got interesting in the closing moments of the third frame. Hmeidan was able to put one away on a six-on-five situation with 19 seconds remaining, but SCU’s May answered back with a power-play goal of his own with one tick before the buzzer. The Tritons led 9-7 going into the final quarter.
UCSD got an 11-8 advantage thanks to a Milton score with 4:26 left in regulation and looked to cruise the rest of the way. The Broncos didn't falter so easily and made it a one-goal game, 11-10, with 2:10 remaining. Turner and the Triton defense were able to come up big and force SCU to miss two game-tying attempts.
UCSD will have a day rest before concluding the regular season at No. 8 UC Davis on Saturday, Nov. 5, starting at 12 p.m. The game will feature two teams undefeated in conference play, with the first seed and first-round bye at the WWPA Tournament on Nov. 18-20 at stake.
UC San Diego 11, Santa Clara 10
UCSD 2 5 2 2 - 11
SCU 1 2 4 3 - 10
SCU: Reilly May 3, Graham McClone 2, Will Grant 2, Shane Hughes 1, Mac Carey 1, Demarco Orella 1
UCSD: Jack Turner 12
SCU: Keaton Fox 12