It was a day meant for the San Diego State water polo seniors to shine and they didn’t disappoint.
Sophomore utility Alex Ford didn’t want to the let the seniors have all the fun though.
Ford scored three goals and took home MVP honors from the 10th annual Harper Cup as SDSU defeated crosstown rival UCSD 15-7 on Senior Day last Friday afternoon.
“It was just a good game I guess,” Ford said humbly of her effort. “We were just playing for the seniors. We just wanted to send them out with a win.”
“The play of the seniors was just stellar,” head coach Carin Crawford added. “And then for a sophomore, Alex Ford, to really break out, it was a great time for her to have a performance like that moving forward into the conference championships.”
Seniors Sarah Brady, Ronni Gautschi, Ashley Novack, Jenna Natalizio and Ashley de Goede all started for the Aztecs and it didn’t take long for the scoring to begin. After junior Leanne Ford converted on a penalty shot two minutes into the game, Gautschi added a goal just 45 seconds later to make it 2-0. UCSD (14-18) added a late first quarter goal to make it 2-1. Alex Ford scored her first goal of the game just 30 seconds into the second quarter and, after UCSD added another goal, Brady tossed it to sophomore utility Amber Pezzolla who converted the goal, making it 4-2.
The Tritons responded with two more scores, tying it up at 4-4 before Brady scored her first goal of the match on another penalty shot. Novack then slammed home a buzzer beater right as the quarter ended, making it 6-4 at halftime.
UCSD came out firing with two goals to start the third quarter, quickly tying the game at 6-6, but then SDSU made a run.
After Brady netted her second goal of the day, junior utility Meaghan Poland and sophomore driver Rachel Miller each got in on the scoring act, adding a score apiece. Pezzolla got her second of the day to end the third quarter, making it 10-6 SDSU. From there, the Aztecs never looked back.
Goals from Poland, two more from Alex Ford, one from Leanne Ford and a final score by Brady locked down the win. A last-second shot by the Tritons set the final score at 15-7. The win improved the Aztecs’ record to 20-12.
Aside from Brady’s three goals she also notched two assists, leaving her with the SDSU record for most water polo assists in a season with 63. Last week she was also named the SDSU female Student-Athlete of the Year.
“Sarah Brady has just been on a roll,” Crawford said. “I think she’s playing, clearly, the best water polo of her career. She sees the pool so well; she’s shooting the ball really well, with a lot of confidence; I think she’s just really hitting her stride and it’s just a great time for her to be playing with such confidence.”
SDSU will now turn its attention to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, which starts Friday. The Aztecs head into the tournament as the No. 7 seed and will meet No. 2 seed Cal, a team they lost to only a few weeks ago.