#9 Water Polo Falls To #12 SDSU In GCC Unbeaten Showdown

Mariana Duarte (photo by Wayne Tilcock)
Mariana Duarte (photo by Wayne Tilcock)

SAN DIEGO, Calif - The No. 9 Pacific women's water polo team came up just short at San Diego State Friday in a battle of unbeaten teams in the Golden Coast Conference, 8-7, at Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego.

Mariana Duarte scored three goals for the Tigers but was stopped on the final shot as the Aztecs held on for the win.

Karolina Hlavata, Rachel Krieger, Viktoria Szmodics and Viktoria Tamas also scored for Pacific, while Kyra Christmas posted three assists. Goalie Alexis Hollinrake recorded six saves with a steal.

SDSU goalie Kate McDonnell recorded 16 saves and added an assist.

The Tigers finished 0-for-2 with the 6-on-5 advantage while San Diego State capitalized on two of their five opportunities with the advantage. Entering the game, Pacific had converted 48-of-111 (43 percent) with the advantage, while holding opponents to 28-of-110 (25 percent) this season.

Ioli Benekou opened the scoring 23 seconds in for San Diego State, but Duarte answered right back off a Krieger assist to tie the game at 1-1.  Benekou set up Hannah Carrillo for a 6-on-5 goal an a 2-1 Aztec lead. Hlavata tallied to tie the game at the 4:39 mark, off a Christmas assist. But Carrillo struck again as San Diego State led 3-2 after the first.

In the second, Benekou stretched the SDSU lead to 4-2 before Alyssa Diacono put the Aztecs up three. Christmas set-up Krieger as the Tigers pulled within 5-3.

Hollinrake sprung Duarte for a goal midway through the third to close within one, and Tamas tied the game at 5-5 with 3:57 to go in the quarter and the game went into the fourth tied.

Duarte put the Tigers up 6-5 with an unassisted goal with 4:41 to go, but the Aztecs answered with 3:11 remaining as Lizzy Bilz finished a Diacono pass to tie the game at 6-6.  Caroline Israels capped off a SDSU 6-on-5 for a 7-6 lead with 2:18 left. After Christmas hit the post, Israels scored again off an outlet pass from McDonnell for a two-goal advantage with 1:49 left.

Krieger's shot was saved by McDonnell, and the Aztecs ran the clock down. Szmodics cut into deficit, finishing off a pass from Christmas with 41 seconds remaining. The Tigers picked up a stop on defense, but McConnell saved Duarte's shot in the final seconds as the Aztecs held on for an 8-7 win.

Pacific falls to 14-8 overall, 3-1 in GCC play, while SDSU improves to 14-12 overall, 5-0 in the GCC.

The Tigers will face Concordia on Saturday in Irvine and 5:30 p.m.