Top-Seeded Water Polo Reaches GCC Final After Defeating APU
April 29, 2017
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
Top-seeded San Diego State cruised to a 13-7 victory over fourth-seeded Azusa Pacific in the semifinal round of the Golden Coast Conference Championship at Sullivan Aquatic Center in Santa Clara. The win pushed the Aztecs into Sunday’s title game vs. second-seeded Pacific.
SDSU (18-13) set the tone early with a Hannah Carrillo goal 35 seconds into the game and later tacked on three more first-quarter goals to take a 4-0 lead. After the Carrillo goal, Ioli Benekou scored on a five-meter penalty shot and Caroline Israels added a power-play goal before supplying another five-meter penalty goal.
APU (14-14) put an end to its 8-minute, 51-second scoreless streak when Britt Harris found the back of the net. Israels, however, stretched the Aztecs’ lead back to four when she took a Lizzy Bilz pass and scored her third of the afternoon. The Cougars scored once more in the half and Benekou posted SDSU’s sixth goal of the game with 19 seconds left to lift the designated home team to a 6-2 lead at intermission.
The Aztecs continued to click on cylinders when action resumed, outscoring Azusa Pacific, 5-2, in the frame. San Diego State, in fact, opened the period on a 5-0 run after receiving goals, in order, from Makena Magro, Israels, Israels, Alyssa Diacono and Israels once again.
Leading 11-4 at the start of the fourth quarter, San Diego State was able to rest its starters. APU scored twice in the first 66 seconds, which capped a 4-0 run for the Cougars. Delaney Parks, however, put a stop to the barrage when she found the back of the cage after a taking a feed from Katy Schneider with 5:35 to play. Mar Pastor produced the final goal for Azusa Pacific and Paola Vizcarra did the same with 1:55 left on the game clock. Sarah Crist assisted on the Vizcarra goal.
Kate McDonnell played three quarters in net and was credited with seven saves. Maura Cantoni relieved her at the start of the fourth and made two stops. The Aztec duo’s counterpart, Erica Marquez, made four saves for Azusa Pacific.
The win sets up a showdown between the top two seeds in the GCC field and is a rematch of last year’s title game. San Diego State comes into the championship having won all four regular-season titles and last season’s tournament crown. Pacific, however, was the coaches’ preseason pick to win the regular season. Earlier this year, the Aztecs and Tigers were tied at 5-5 entering the fourth quarter with UOP taking a 6-5 lead with 4:41 to play. SDSU, however, answered with three goals in a matter of 1:22 to take an 8-6 lead. Pacific added a final goal with 41 seconds left as the Aztecs emerged with the 8-7 decision.
No. 13 San Diego State will face 10th-ranked Pacific tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. PT for the right to lift the Golden Coast Championship trophy and advance to the NCAA Championship. The Aztecs will be vying for their second consecutive tournament title and their sixth GCC championship overall. Live video and stats links will be available at GoAztecs.com.