Women’s Polo bounced back from two losses last week with a 10-5 win over the UC San Diego Tritons, featuring a stellar performance from senior center Natalie Seidemann who scored five goals and added a steal as well. The ‘Eaters came back to Irvine Aquatics Center having dropped two games on the road, after their win over UCSD, the ‘Eaters improve to 7-5 at home and 10-13 overall.
UCI opened up the scoring as Seidemann began her reign in front of the Tritons goal just 29 seconds into the first, as she sent the ball top left past the SD keeper.
On the defensive side, UCI outplayed the Tritons, forcing several turnovers throughout the period and the shots that did make their way on net were quickly turned aside by a confident junior Jenna Phreaner. Seidemann established a blistering pace when she netted the game’s second goal on a pass from freshman Tara Prentice, who would add three more as the game went on. In front of the net, Seidemann beat two defenders and the keeper on a flurry of a backwards shot. UCSD began their scoring 4:08 into the first on a skip shot that was just out of reach of Phreaner, who had nine saves on the night. Julie Swieca then added two back to back goals of her own. The first of which came just five seconds into a UCI powerplay. For her second, the ball started in the ‘Eaters end, as Phreanner made a stop, then the ‘Eaters quickly moved the ball up and snuck it past the SD defense. Now up 4-1 UCI allowed a fumbling goal from the Tritons that awkwardly bounced of the top bar, then Phreaner and into the net.
Seidemann again began the scoring in the second, as she capitalized on the powerplay, 1:28 into the period on a skip shot that gave UCI a 5-2 lead. UCSD responded within the minute with a difficult to read skip shot of their own bringing the score to 5-3. Then came the first of three, five meter penalty shots for UCSD. As Phreaner postures in the net and stares down her opponent, “I go into an attack mindset when facing a penalty shot,” she says. This mindset adds a mental edge to her game and obviously disrupts the shooter, because two of the three penalty shots she faced bounced bar out without even a promise of finding the back of the net. The Tritons would then add their only consecutive points, one of which came from a point blank shot, giving UCSD hope as they came within one bringing the score to 5-4. Before the period was done however, UCI was sure to route any chance of a comeback with two goals of their own. Freshman Kayleigh Schultz scored the first with less than two minutes to play, as she went far side and beat the keeper from a few meters out. Then senior Allie Loomis found the net on a skip shot on the next possession. The ‘Eaters at this time began looking very confident as the UCSD defense began to flounder and the offense could not produce. At the half, UCI led 7-4.
After a minute of scoreless play in the third, junior Cara Borkovec carried the ball in front of the Triton’s net and despite the defender’s best efforts, managed a far side spinorama, the ‘Eaters now up 8-4. The Tritons began to look less confident as they faced problems getting shots off before the shot clock expired in the face of UCI’s hounding defense. The Tritons did score on their third penalty shot, bringing them within three. This came with 3:49 left to play in the third and was the final goal UCSD would score. Seidemann however was not done scoring as she battled in front of the net against a double team and an aggressive Triton goalie who came to try and steal the ball, but as the goalie rushed her, Seidemann threw a backhand into the net.
The fourth quarter began with a defensive display from Phreaner who turned aside the first shot UCSD could muster. Seidemann topped the game off, Scoring the final point on a pass from Loomis, down low and far left. UCI finished the game holding on to their 10-5 lead. The ‘Eaters outshot the Tritons 29-20 and also had much better marks on the powerplay, where SD went 0-7 UCI went 2-5. The ‘Eaters move on to play their final Big West opponent CSU Long Beach, Thursday April 19 at Irvine Aquatics Complex, before they have the Big West conference Tournament the following weekend.