UC San Diego takes down Pomona-Pitzer to advance in consolation bracket
BOSTON -- Rebounding from a disappointing first-round loss, UC San Diego got five goals from junior Sarah Lizotte and cruised past SCIAC champion Pomona-Pitzer 15-8 in the NCAA championship consolation bracket. The victory pits the Tritons against Princeton (27-6) for fifth place in Sunday's tournament finale.
“It was good to get a victory after how we played [Friday] against Hawaii,” said head coach Brad Kreutzkamp, alluding to the Tritons’ 13-6 defeat. “When we were able to get out to an early lead, it made me feel a lot better and I could see we had our typical confidence.”
[assetId:177031:2013 NC Women's Water Polo Championship Asset]Lizotte made sure there would be no repeat of Friday’s outcome, scoring all five of her goals in the first half, staking UCSD to a 10-5 lead at the break. Junior two-meter player Melissa Bartow and sophomore Rachel Brooks cashed in three times apiece and the trio of Lizotte, Bartow and Brooks accounted for all of the Tritons’ first-half scoring.
“Sarah [Lizotte] is an amazing player and everyone on our team knows we can count on her,” Bartow said. “As our top scorer, she’s under a lot of pressure, but she’s used to that and able to handle it. She’s been through it enough times and always helps hold us together when things get tough.”
As per plan, Kreutzkamp made ample use of his bench throughout and it was primarily reserves that allowed UCSD to extend its advantage in the final two quarters.
“Against any team, we want to get our bench involved and get the other team horizontal which helps us,” Kreutzkamp said. “I love how deep our bench is and in a tournament situation like this you’re always thinking about what’s still to come. We want to be as fresh as possible.”
Aside from Brooks’ final goal, all of the second half goal-scoring was done by freshmen. Alexis Wieseler notched a pair, while Julia Kirkland and Emma Sasson registering one each. Another freshman, goalie Courtney Miller, stopped six shots in the cage.
The win was UCSD’s 10th in as many tries against Pomona-Pitzer and the loss dropped the SCIAC champion Sagehens to 18-18 on the year. Already assured of its best NCAA championship finish (UCSD defeated Iona for seventh in 2011), the Tritons match up against a Princeton team that throttled Iona 12-2 in Saturday's first game after dropping a closer-than-expected 8-6 decision to UCLA in Friday’s first round.
“Princeton is a very good team and the two of us have been close in the polls all along,” Kreutzkamp said. “We’ve had a fantastic season but a win [Sunday] ends it on a bright note. That means everything. I expect us to play our best game of the year.”