NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - A slow start doomed the 16th-ranked University of California San Diego women’s water polo team as the Tritons fell 8-5 in the 11th-place game to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on the final day of the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at Corona del Mar High School.
UC San Diego finished the three-day tournament in 12th place with a 1-3 record after facing four opponents all ranked inside the top 20 of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) national poll. UCSD now holds a 5-8 overall. With the win, UCSB moves to 10-6 on the season.
Seniors Alexis Wieseler and Lauren Boyer each tallied two goals while Lani Tittle added one. Tittle also notched four steals while Wiesler totaled three. Freshman Reilly Gallagher amassed six saves in goal for the Tritons.
The Gauchos’ Kate Pipkin collected a game-high three goals, while goalkeeper Kelsey Fennell notched eight saves.
"This is always one of the toughest tournaments of the season, and this year was no exception," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "After a fantastic start against SDSU, we faltered to UOP and UCSB. When we start the game down two or three goals, it's hard to come back from that."
UCSB outscored UCSD 7-2 in the first half, taking a three-goal lead to start the game. Boyer scored first for the Tritons with three minutes remaining in the first frame to make it a 3-1 game. The Gauchos rounded out the quarter with two more goals to lead by four.
Boyer notched another goal in the second quarter, however, UCSB went into halftime with a 7-2 lead.
The UCSD defense held the Gauchos to only one goal during the second half of play, outscoring UCSB 3-1 in the third quarter. Tittle notched the first goal of the quarter on a power play before Wieseler buried one with 2:48 showing on the clock. Wieseler scored again with under a minute remaining in the frame to cut UCSB’s lead to three.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the final frame as the Gauchos ultimately earned the three-goal victory.
"The team is playing hard," concluded Kreutzkamp. "There are things we need to fix and work on, but I expect our trip back east will help us get back on track."
UCSD will travel east to the three-day Harvard Invitational, March 3-5. The Tritons kick off the competition on Friday, March 3, against No. 14 Indiana at 3:30 p.m. PT.
UCSB 5 2 1 0 - 8
UCSD 1 1 3 0 - 5
UCSB: Kate Pipkin 3, Brenna Thomas 1, Sarah Kreiser 1, Natalie Selin 1, Taylor Shore 1, Sophie Trabucco 1
UCSD: Reilly Gallagher 6
UCSB: Kelsey Fennell 8