Women’s Waterpolo places fifth in UCI Invitational

Being on the road for the majority of the young season, the No. 9 UC Irvine women’s water polo team returned to familiar waters this past weekend as they held the UCI Invitational at the Anteater Aquatics Complex. The tournament held host to some of the top competition in collegiate water polo.

Saturday

The ‘Eaters opened up the tournament against No. 7 Arizona State in a game that had home pool advantage implications. UCI was able to pull out of a tight contest against the Sun Devils and earn the 5-4 victory. The ‘Eaters’ scoring was well spread out with five different players scoring in the contest. Showing some adversity, the Sun Devils would not let the game get out of reach as they were able to tie the game down two scores on two occasions. In the end, the ‘Eaters were able to close out the game and head on to face the No. 1 team in the country in USC.

The ‘Eaters opened up the tournament against No. 7 Arizona State in a game that had home pool advantage implications. UCI was able to pull out of a tight contest against the Sun Devils and earn the 5-4 victory. The ‘Eaters’ scoring was well spread out with five different players scoring in the contest. Showing some adversity, the Sun Devils would not let the game get out of reach as they were able to tie the game down two scores on two occasions. In the end, the ‘Eaters were able to close out the game and head on to face the No. 1 team in the country in USC.

In what was their best performance of the season thus far, the ‘Eaters were not only able to compete against the Trojans but nearly pull off an upset against the best team in the nation.

In what was their best performance of the season thus far, the ‘Eaters were not only able to compete against the Trojans but nearly pull off an upset against the best team in the nation.

“I thought the team competed, which is what I asked for and  coming back off two games rest against the number one team in the country is not easy,” said Head Coach Dan Klatt, “I couldn’t have asked for a better effort but we certainly made a few mistakes specifically right at the end of quarters [..] but this is a big step forward for our team for where we’re at in our season.”

Junior goalkeeper Annika Nelson rejected 12 shots during Saturday's matchup against No.1 USC

Junior goalkeeper Annika Nelson rejected 12 shots during Saturday’s matchup against No.1 USC

“I thought the team competed, which is what I asked for and  coming back off two games rest against the number one team in the country is not easy,” said Head Coach Dan Klatt, “I couldn’t have asked for a better effort but we certainly made a few mistakes specifically right at the end of quarters [..] but this is a big step forward for our team for where we’re at in our season.”

The fans in attendance were in store for a high scoring affair that saw eight different ‘Eaters score while Trojan junior Stephania Haralabidis lead the way with seven goals of her own. Junior goalkeeper Annika Nelson had a huge day in front of the cage with 12 saves.

The fans in attendance were in store for a high scoring affair that saw eight different ‘Eaters score while Trojan junior Stephania Haralabidis lead the way with seven goals of her own. Junior goalkeeper Annika Nelson had a huge day in front of the cage with 12 saves.

It was a back and forth affair early on as the ‘Eaters would convert two penalty shots, from sophomore Mary Brooks, and earn a 4-3 lead after the first period. Nelson held her end at the goal saving five shots in the second period and only conceding two goals from the barrage of Trojan shots. A 5-5 halftime would be preceded by a nine goal quarter in which the Trojans would garner a one point lead heading into the last period of play. Junior Gabby Pierandozzi would knot things up at 10-10 with five minutes left in the contest. USC would capitalize off a UCI exclusion and make the winning goal to push the lead to 11-10. The ‘Eaters had an opportunity to force overtime with 22 seconds left on the clock but they could not convert and ultimately were pushed out of winning the tournament.

It was a back and forth affair early on as the ‘Eaters would convert two penalty shots, from sophomore Mary Brooks, and earn a 4-3 lead after the first period. Nelson held her end at the goal saving five shots in the second period and only conceding two goals from the barrage of Trojan shots. A 5-5 halftime would be preceded by a nine goal quarter in which the Trojans would garner a one point lead heading into the last period of play. Junior Gabby Pierandozzi would knot things up at 10-10 with five minutes left in the contest. USC would capitalize off a UCI exclusion and make the winning goal to push the lead to 11-10. The ‘Eaters had an opportunity to force overtime with 22 seconds left on the clock but they could not convert and ultimately were pushed out of winning the tournament.

Sunday

Consolation play began for the ‘Eaters when they played UC Davis, where they won by a score of 8-5 and earned a chance to play for fifth place in the tournament.The match marked the third meeting against No. 5 Aggies having split their last two encounters. Five different ‘Eaters scored in the contest with Pierandozzi and sophomore Corinna Toledo scoring two apiece.  The ‘Eater offense was feeling a groove early outscoring the Aggies 6-3 in the first half. Keeping UC Davis to just two goals in the second, the ‘Eaters were able to comfortably get the victory against their Big West foes.

Consolation play began for the ‘Eaters when they played UC Davis, where they won by a score of 8-5 and earned a chance to play for fifth place in the tournament.The match marked the third meeting against No. 5 Aggies having split their last two encounters. Five different ‘Eaters scored in the contest with Pierandozzi and sophomore Corinna Toledo scoring two apiece.  The ‘Eater offense was feeling a groove early outscoring the Aggies 6-3 in the first half. Keeping UC Davis to just two goals in the second, the ‘Eaters were able to comfortably get the victory against their Big West foes.  

An emotional fifth place game saw the ‘Eaters fall to the University of Michigan, 8-7, in a sudden death period. The ‘Eaters were all but secure with the victory, having blacked the Wolverines’ last attempt at forcing overtime, but a miscue in front of the cage saw Michigan pounce and score the game tying goal as time expired. After a deadlock overtime period, the game was set to sudden death where Michigan were able to outlast the ‘Eaters and win fifth place in the UCI Invitational.

An emotional fifth place game saw the ‘Eaters fall to the University of Michigan, 8-7, in a sudden death period. The ‘Eaters were all but secure with the victory, having blacked the Wolverines’ last attempt at forcing overtime, but a miscue in front of the cage saw Michigan pounce and score the game tying goal as time expired. After a deadlock overtime period, the game was set to sudden death where Michigan were able to outlast the ‘Eaters and win fifth place in the UCI Invitational.

“We should have won that game […] and at the end of the day the team did well enough to win in regulation.” expressed a disheartened Klatt, “I felt that we were going to make a better decision and I was confident in whose hands the ball was in but I just made the wrong decision.”

“We should have won that game […] and at the end of the day the team did well enough to win in regulation.” expressed a disheartened Klatt, “I felt that we were going to make a better decision and I was confident in whose hands the ball was in but I just made the wrong decision.”

The ‘Eaters will be back in action at the Convergence Tournament in Pomona on Mar. 4. UCI will be back at the Anteater Aquatics Complex to face San Diego State on Mar. 5 before embarking on a near month long road trip.

The ‘Eaters will be back in action at the Convergence Tournament in Pomona on Mar. 4. UCI will be back at the Anteater Aquatics Complex to face San Diego State on Mar. 5 before embarking on a near month long road trip.