Water Polo

No. 23 Water Polo Finishes Third at GCC Tourney

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 4-seeded San Diego State water polo team got four goals from sophomore Sydney Gish and played stout second half defense to put away the 3-seeded University of the Pacific Tigers 12-8 in the third-place game at the Golden Coast Conference Tournament on Sunday morning at Sullivan Aquatic Center.
With the victory, the Scarlet and Black (17-15), ranked No. 23 in the nation, avenged an 8-5 loss to the Tigers late last month and secured the program's first winning season since the 2017 squad posted an 18-14 mark. It is San Diego State's best finish in the tournament, as a full field, since the 2018 Aztecs came in third place. SDSU finished in second place in a reduced-field tournament, four teams vs. eight teams, in 2021.
In addition to Gish's four tallies, her most in a game since the season opener vs. Cal State Monterey Bay when she banged the back of the net six times, Hannah Bell, Mimi Stoupas and Claudia Valdes each scored twice, while Amanda Chamber and Sofia Righetti added one goal apiece. With 10 of the Aztecs' 12 goals coming from underclassmen and the other two credited to juniors, the future of San Diego State water polo looks bright.
Tiaare Ahovelo was stout in goal for SDSU stopping 12 shots, her sixth game with double figure saves, while eight went in the net and earned the win (9-12). On multiple occasions, Ahovelo stymied UOP with stops on point-blank shots, leading the defense which surrendered just three goals in the second half. For the three games at the event, the SDSU defense held its opponents to just 4-of-30 (.133) on power play opportunities.
Rose Kanemy had two assists in the game, finished the season with 54 and in a tie with Alana Burgess (54 assists in 2012) for sixth place on the program's single season list. Her 136 career assists rank No. 4 on the program's career list.  
Down 2-0 midway through the first period, Gish was set up by Bell and lobbed a shot from the left side which floated over the goalie and in, to cut the lead to 2-1 at the 3:52 mark. Then with 39 seconds left in the opening stanza, Valdes tied it on a penalty shot, which she skipped under the right arm of the goalie. The final goal of the quarter was the Aztecs' and came with less than a second left in the period. Chambers took a cross-pool pass from Mary Comiskey and shot it high into the far upper corner of the goal to send the game to the second quarter with SDSU up 3-2.
Bell got the scoring going in the second period when she scored off a cross-goal pass from Croteau, which she redirected in to push the advantage to 4-2 at the 7:01 mark. UOP fought back and tied the game 4-4 with 4:46 after a pair of goals, but Valdes, on a breakaway off a UOP turnover, skipped a shot under the goalie to put SDSU back in front 5-4. It was the sophomore from Madrid, Spain's second of the game and 76th of the season which slots her into ninth place alone on the program's single season scoring list and the most for an Aztec since Anna Gonzales scored 77 times in 2008. The Tigers got the final goal of the half, and the teams went to the break tied 5-5.
Coming out of halftime, Stoupas, off a feed from Houck, who finished with a team high three assists in her final collegiate game, put SDSU back in front 6-5 with 7:12 to go in the quarter. It was the first of four straight Aztec's goals. Gish picked up the next two tallies, at 5:59 and 5:16 on the clock to complete her second hat trick of the season. The last goal of the run came from a pass from Danni Croteau, her second assist in her final game in Scarlet and Black, from inside two meters out to Righetti who came right down the middle and banged the back of the net to make it 9-5. The Tigers scored with six seconds left to send the game to the final period with the Scarlet and Black leading 9-6.
UOP (16-11) scored the first goal of the final stanza, but Stoupas came right back 15 seconds later and hammered a shot in from two meters to make it 10-7. Then with 3:29 to go Gish took a pass two meters out from Hollis Munchoff and lobbed her fourth goal of the game in to extend the lead to 11-7. The Tigers scored their last goal with 1:32 to play, but Bell got it back23 seconds later off a feed from Houck for the final score of 12-8.
Pacific was led by Dora Alaksza and her five goals while Maja Lizy Dulic made eight saves and watched 12 shots get past her in the loss.
San Diego State: 3-2-4-3 - 12
Pacific: 2-3-1-2 - 8
San Diego State: Gish (4), Bell (2), Stoupas (2), Valdes (2), Chambers (1), Righetti (1)
Pacific: D. Alaksza (5), Fulorian (2), Lillie (1)
San Diego State: Ahovelo (12)
Pacific: Dulic (8)