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Mens Water Polo Takes Third Place for NCAA Championship

December 4, 2006

Coach Denny Harper’s Men’s Water Polo team concluded a record-setting season by finishing third at the NCAA Championships last weekend in Los Angeles. After losing to eventual national titlist UC Berkeley, 17-7, in the Saturday’s semi-final, the Tritons bounced back, stopping Navy, 12-8, Sunday to collect the third place trophy. UCSD finished the season at 26-6.

Ty Lackey (Photo / Jimmy Gekas)
Ty Lackey (Photo / Jimmy Gekas)

In Saturday’s semi, the Tritons hung tough early but were unable to stop a bigger, deeper Cal team that Harper termed “a juggernaut. The Bears were up, 5-3, after a frenetically-paced first period. The last of Cal’s five, scored by Brian Bacharach at 1:16 with the Bears holding a two-man advantage, was the watershed point in the game. Coming with his team up, 4-3, it set off a barrage of six unanswered goals that put UCSD in a hole from which it would never recover.

Despite the deficit, Harper’s crew refused to quit, narrowing the gap to 10-5 at intermission on goals by senior Jesse Casellini and junior Adi Jerkovic. Cal came right back with two goals to open the second half, UCSD answered with a Jerkovic lob and Casellini’s third score of the afternoon, again getting within five, but the Bears collected the final five goals of the contest to win handily. Casellini scored three and Jerkovic two for UCSD but the Tritons were just 3-of-11 in man-up situations while UC Berkeley went 5-for-8.

The Tritons ended their 10th trip to the NCAA Championships on a positive note, getting five goals from senior Ty Lackey in the triumph over Navy. Junior Nestor Dordoni chipped in with three goals as UCSD went into the half with a 7-5 lead and scored the first three goals of the second half, two by junior A.J. Kotanjian. The Midshipmen made a final run, scoring three straight to make it 10-8 with three minutes remaining, but Lackey’s final two tallies, both on the power play, foiled their comeback plans. Senior Jeremy Randall was solid in the cage, making 12 saves and coming off the line repeatedly to stifle Navy advances. Casellini and Lackey were second team all-tournament choices.

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