SDSU Water Polo Completes Season With Fifth-Place Finish At MPSF Championship

April 27, 2003

STANFORD, Calif. - Seventh-ranked and seventh-seeded San Diego State finished its season a winner, claiming a 5-2 win over No. 5 California to take fifth place at the 2003 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Women's Water Polo Championship. The Aztecs allowed a season-low two goals behind a 10-save effort from junior goalkeeper Ashley Zabel (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS) and claimed their best finish at the conference championship in the last four years.

By winning three of its four games in the season-ending championship, SDSU completed 2003 with a record of 21-12 (.636) for its best winning percentage in seven seasons and the best under fifth-year head coach Carin Crawford. By knocking off the fifth-ranked Bears, SDSU gained its third win this season over a top-six ranked team and avenged a pair of narrow losses earlier in the season to Cal.

No. 3 and top-seeded Stanford claimed the MPSF Championship and a berth in the May 11-12 NCAA Tournament in San Diego with a thrilling 3-2 victory over No. 1 and third-seeded UCLA in the fifth sudden-victory overtime period. No. 2 and second seed USC earned third place with a 10-5 triumph over No. 4/fourth seed Long Beach State.

The game settled in as a defensive struggle in the first half, with Cal scoring the first goal of the game in the first quarter and SDSU answering with a second-quarter score to put the score at 1-1 going into halftime. The Aztecs took command in the third quarter with three goals and added another in the fourth, while the Bears could muster only a single score in the third.

Thanks to outstanding play from Zabel and the Aztec defense, Cal registered its only two goals of the game on 6-on-5 opportunities and was outscored 4-0 by SDSU at even strength.

In her final game as an Aztec, senior utility Casey Finnegan (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS) scored a game-high two goals. Finnegan completes her outstanding all-round career at SDSU with 131 career goals, sixth-most in program history.

Also capping an outstanding career was senior utility Amber Prestegard (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison HS), who came up just five goals shy of the all-time SDSU scoring record but scored the 230th goal of her career today. With 54 goals on the season, Prestegard became the first Aztec to score at least 50 in each of her four seasons.

Junior 2-meter Holly Hartzell (Vista, Calif./Fallbrook HS) scored her team-best 63rd goal of the season and junior driver Sandy Onweller (Poway, Calif./Palomar) registered her fifth goal of the championship.

The win marked the final game for seven Aztec seniors - co-captain Finnegan, Prestegard, co-captain Heidi Matsumoto, Jackie Lopez, Ashleigh May, Becky Sensney, and Brenna Wylie. The six four-year members of the group finished their careers with a cumulative 82-59 record and a likely fourth straight season-ending, top-eight national ranking.

2003 MPSF Championship Day 3 - April 27, 2003
Avery Aquatic Complex, Stanford, Calif.
(7) SAN DIEGO STATE 5, (5) California 2

1 2 3 4 Total SDSU 0 1 3 1 5 Cal 1 0 1 0 2

San Diego State Scoring: Casey Finnegan 2, Holly Hartzell, Sandy Onweller, Amber Prestegard California Scoring: Cara Chlebicki, Allison Gold Goalie Saves: Ashley Zabel (SDSU) 10; Lauren Dennis (California) 5 6-on-5: San Diego State 1-8; California 2-5 Penalty Shots: California 0-1

Final Championship Round Results 11th Place - (11) Pacific 9th Place - (10) UC Irvine 7, (8) San Jose State 3 7th Place - (6) Hawai'i 7, (9) UC Santa Barbara 4 5th Place - (7) San Diego State 5, (5) California 2 3rd Place - (2) USC 10, (4) Long Beach State 5 1st Place - (1) Stanford 3, (3) UCLA 2 (OT-SV5)

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