GENEVA, Ohio - The top-seeded and 18th-ranked University of California San Diego women's water polo team took down third-seeded Sonoma State in a dominating performance to capture the 2017 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship title game by a final score of 15-4, Sunday at the SPIRE Institute.
The result marks the fifth straight conference crown for UC San Diego, and sixth in the last seven years under head coach Brad Kreutzkamp, who has led his squad to the WWPA final in all eight of his seasons at the helm.
UCSD earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bracket will be announced during the NCAA selection show, which can be viewed at NCAA.com on Monday, May 1, at 5 p.m. PT.
The Tritons won their fifth consecutive game and improve to 19-14 overall. The Seawolves finish their season 11-18. Senior center Lauren Boyer led UCSD with a game-high six goals to complete her 13th hat trick of the season while senior two-meter defender Alexis Wieseler added four. Sophomore Chanel Schilling tallied two goals and freshman Jessee Ransone, senior Connie Wu and junior Kayla Fedler added one apiece.
As a team, the Tritons grabbed 11 steals with Wieseler notching a team-best four. In goal, freshman Reilly Gallagher made seven saves and had one steal.
Sonoma State's Cassidy Mundt and Nicole Groat had two goals each while goalkeeper Taylor Plorin made 12 saves.
Wieseler put UCSD on the board first, but SSU quickly answered to knot the game at one. The Tritons scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-1 lead after the first quarter.
Boyer and Wieseler each found the back of the cage to open up the second frame. The Seawolves' Groat drilled one past Gallagher to make it a 6-2 game but Wu capped the period with a score to give UCSD a five-goal cushion at the half.
The Tritons outscored SSU 8-2 in the second half of play. The UCSD defense shut out the Seawolves 3-0 in the fourth quarter.
Five goals in the third frame broke open the lead for the Tritons. Boyer tallied two goals while Wieseler, Fedler and Schilling added one apiece.
UCSD fired three more shots past Plorin in the fourth frame as the Tritons earned a decisive 11-goal victory. Boyer, Schilling and Wiesler had UCSD's final three scores.
Wieseler was named the 2017 WWPA Tournament MVP and earned All-Tournament First Team honors along with Boyer and Fedler. Senior Lani Tittle was placed on the second team.
UCSD 4 3 5 3 - 15
SSU 1 1 2 0 - 4
SSU: Cassidy Mundt 2, Nicole Groat 2.
UCSD: Reilly Gallagher 7.
SSU: Taylor Plorin 12.