Aztec Water Polo Defeats Michigan for Fifth-Place Finish at NCAA Championship
May 11, 2008
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Bolstered by hat tricks from juniors Anna Gonzales, Erinn Greenwood and Jenna Schuster, the fourth-seeded San Diego State water polo team (31-7) defeated No. 6 seed University of Michigan, 12-9, to capture fifth place at the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship Sunday afternoon at Avery Aquatic Center.
"Anna, Erinn and Jenna have really been the mainstays of our offense," said Aztec head coach Carin Crawford. "Those three played a key role in getting us to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year and they have been such an asset to our program."
In addition to the top performances of Gonzales, Greenwood and Schuster, three other Aztecs earned their way into the scoring column, including Jessica Pace-Bowers, Danielle Pelke and Becca Ur. Ur was also instrumental in creating opportunities for the Scarlet and Black with three assists and a game-high six ejections drawn, two of which resulted in penalty shots. Heather Fenske anchored a solid effort on the defensive end with eight stops in between the posts.
SDSU came out firing and took an early 3-1 lead after the first eight minutes of action. Schuster opened the scoring with a power play goal on the Aztecs' second possession of the contest. Pace-Bowers found an open Greenwood during another man-up opportunity before Gonzales made it a 3-0 game when she converted a penalty shot at the 1:15 mark. Michigan was then able to break through the Scarlet and Black's defense with Terri Bukofzer finding the back of the net just 14 seconds later.
In a low-scoring second quarter, Pace-Bowers connected with Greenwood once again to put SDSU up by three. The Wolverines then got back into the scoring column when Julie Hyrne converted on a power play counter attack, but Greenwood gave the Aztecs a 5-2 advantage at the end of the first half by completing a hat trick with seven seconds on the clock.
Michigan (34-11) bounced back in the third frame, outscoring San Diego State, 5-2. Carrie Frost kicked off the Wolverine attack with back-to-back tallies, before Gonzales' second penalty goal gave the Aztecs a two-point advantage. UM then countered with a pair of scores to tie the game at six. Pelke struck from the perimeter at the 2:02 mark, but the Wolverines evened the match once again as Sharayah Hernandez connected with 51 seconds remaining in the period.
With the game tied at 7-7 heading into the final stanza, the Aztec offense went into overdrive, while Fenske put a stop to the Michigan attack with four of her eight saves down the stretch. Gonzales converted her third penalty shot of the game just 1:30 into the quarter before Pace-Bowers picked up an offensive rebound and lobbed the ball over the outstretched arms of UM goalkeeper Brittany May. The Wolverines cut their deficit to 9-8, but that was the closest they would get the rest of the way as Schuster added two scores in the final five minutes, and Ur connected on a backhanded shot to secure a fifth-place finish for the Aztecs.
San Diego State concludes the 2008 campaign with a program-best 31-7 record. With a 2-1 mark at the NCAA tournament, the Scarlet and Black topped last year's school-record 29 wins.
NCAA Championship: Fifth-place game
MICH 1-1-5-2 -- 9 SDSU 3-2-2-5 -- 12