The Aztecs prepare for a pair of pivotal MPSF games this week as it hosts Cal and USC.
March 25, 2008
SAN DIEGO -
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NO. 6 SDSU WATER POLO PREPARES FOR BIG WEEK; HOSTS CAL AND USC
The sixth-ranked San Diego State women's water polo team (21-2 overall; 5-1 MPSF) will put its eight-game unbeaten streak on the line this week as it hosts No. 5 California and No. 3 University of Southern California in a pair of pivotal Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests. The Scarlet and Black will square off with Cal, Thursday, March 27, at 4 p.m. (PDT), and will then conclude an eight-game homestand Saturday (March 29) against USC, with the first sprint set for 1 p.m. (PDT). Both games will be played at the Aztec Aquaplex. SDSU is currently tied for third with USC and Stanford in the MPSF standings, while Cal is not far behind in sixth place.
SDSU DOMINANT IN SECOND ANNUAL AZTEC INVITATIONAL
SDSU posted a perfect 5-0 record as it hosted a pair of conference games in conjunction with the second annual Aztec Invitational (March 14-16). The Scarlet and Black opened the busy weekend with a convincing 14-6 win over MPSF foe Pacific. The following day, the Aztecs found themselves in a hole against 14th-ranked Long Beach State, falling behind 5-3 after the first period. It was the first time all season that SDSU had allowed five scores in one quarter, but the defense stepped up in the remaining periods, holding the 49ers to just two goals the rest of the way. Riding its solid defensive effort for 16 minutes, SDSU finally erupted for four goals in the final stanza to pull out a 9-7 victory, improving to 5-1 in league play. Erinn Greenwood anchored the Aztec comeback with two key tallies in the fourth quarter.
The Aztecs went on to post big wins in their final three games of the tournament, defeating Colorado State (13-6), No. 20 Princeton (10-2) and Cal State Bakersfield (13-7) in non-conference action. On the weekend, Jenna Schuster and Anna Gonzales paced the offense with 10 and nine goals, respectively. Heather Fenske also had an impressive showing in front of the cage, notching 42 saves in 96 minutes.
San Diego State's freshmen also saw significant playing time over the weekend. Sarah Brady, who had totaled three goals over the first 18 games, connected on seven of her 11 shots, while Brooke Vessey scored twice against Pacific (March 14), marking her first multiple-goal game. Fallon Newman recorded her first collegiate tally as she found the back of the net against Colorado State (March 15).
Cal (12-6; 5-3 MPSF) picked up a much needed 14-8 win over Cal State Northridge on Saturday, March 22, as it had dropped its previous two games to third-ranked USC and then No. 8 Arizona State. After last week's offensive outburst, the Golden Bears rank fifth in the league with 9.39 goals per game, and are fourth in defense, allowing just 6.56 goals/game.
Cal's offense has been anchored by a quartet of goal scorers, including Grace Reynolds, who has recorded a team-high 35 tallies. She is followed by Molly Hayes (27), Meghan Corso (24) and Darby Anderson (22). Reynolds (1.94 g/game) and Hayes (1.50 g/game) are also on the conference leaderboards, ranking 11th and 24th, respectively. Heather Stuart, meanwhile, has been a steady force for the Golden Bear defense, notching 9.88 saves per game, earning her a No. 2 ranking among the MPSF goalkeepers.
Since 1995, the Aztecs trail in their series with Cal by a 22-9 count. SDSU upset the Golden Bears, 7-5, in Berkeley, Calif., in the only meeting between the two teams last year.
The University of Southern California (12-5; 5-1 MPSF) is coming off an 8-7 loss to top-ranked and undefeated UCLA (March 14). The Bruins' victory snapped USC's 42-game home winning streak, which dated back to 2002.
As a team, the Women of Troy rank just ninth in the conference with 8.67 goals per game, but have been stellar on the defensive end, allowing only 5.35 goals/game (second). The Trojan offense has been guided by Michelle Stein, who has racked up 35 scores, while Tumua Anae has been the key to the defense with 129 saves. Both Stein (seventh, 2.06 g/game) and Anae (third, 9.21 s/game) are among the league leaders in their respective categories.
Since 1995, San Diego State trails in its series with the Trojans by a 24-9 count. In 2007, the Aztecs fell at USC during the regular season before dropping a 13-6 decision to the Women of Troy in the third-place game at the NCAA championships in Los Alamitos, Calif.
San Diego State has reached double-digit goals in 15 matches this year and has notched at least 10 tallies in five out of its last six contests. Earlier in the year, the Aztecs put together a string of six consecutive double-figure scoring games (Feb. 10-17). The junior duo of Anna Gonzales and Jenna Schuster lead the Scarlet and Black with 49 and 47 goals, respectively. Classmate Erinn Greenwood has also chipped in 37 tallies, while sophomore Danielle Pelke is fourth on the team with 32 scores.
The Aztecs have proven on many occasions that when they are down, they're not out. Outscoring its opponents 57-33 in the fourth quarter, five of SDSU's victories have been won in the final eight minutes. Most recently, the Scarlet and Black posted a late rally to pin a 9-7 defeat on 14th-ranked Long Beach State. Trailing 6-5 after three quarters, the Aztecs went on to outscore the 49ers 4-1 in the final period for the win. SDSU also had a remarkable comeback at San Jose State. Trailing 8-6 heading into the fourth period, Greenwood eventually tied the game at eight before Gonzales tossed in the game-winner with just 36 seconds remaining. In addition, San Diego State came from behind to defeat both UC Irvine and Arizona State at the UCI Invitational, while also staging a late rally to claim the UC San Diego Triton Invitational with a 10-9 victory over Loyola Marymount.