La Jolla, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team kept it close with No. 13 UC San Diego throughout, but the Tritons pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 13-9 win in an NCAA Play-In game on Saturday afternoon.
UC San Diego moves on to face second-seeded UCLA in the NCAA Championships on Friday at 12 noon, hosted by USC. Pomona-Pitzer sees its season end at 23-14 and with a third straight SCIAC title.
The two teams met in last year's NCAA Tournament at Harvard, with UC San Diego controlling the match throughout in a 15-8 win. This year's meeting saw Pomona-Pitzer keep it much closer, although the Sagehens were never able to tie the score after an early 2-0 Triton lead despite cutting it to one goal on four occasions.
Freshman Christina Williamson scored the final goal of the first quarter to pull the Sagehens within 2-1, before the Tritons scored the first two goals of the second quarter to go ahead 4-1. The teams traded goals throughout the second quarter, and a Sarah Westcott penalty shot with just 3.6 seconds left gave UC San Diego a 7-6 lead going into the break.
The Tritons scored the first goal of the second half, but junior Alyssa Woodward answered with her second to make the score 8-7. After UC San Diego took a 9-7 lead into the fourth, junior Vicky Gyorffy (pictured) had a key steal and broke loose for a transition goal to once again pull the Sagehens within a single goal at 9-8.
However, Julia Kirkland answered back almost immediately to restore the two-goal lead and the Tritons added another on a 6-on-5 advantage from Emma Sasson to make the score 11-8. Junior Mahalia Prater-Fahey swept in a shot from in close to give Pomona-Pitzer some life with 4:46 to go, but the Sagehens could come no closer.
Sarah Lizotte led the way for UC San Diego with four goals, while Kirkland and Alexis Wieseler each had three. The Sagehens received two goals from Gyorffy, Woodward, and Williamson and a goal apiece from Westcott, Prater-Fahey and freshman Hope Grant.
Pomona-Pitzer will return most of its 2014 team next season, as Brenda Iglesias was the only senior on this season's roster. The seven members of the Class of 2015 will have a chance to try for four straight SCIAC titles in their careers next spring.