No. 25 San Diego State water polo defeated University of Toronto, 11-3, in an exhibition match on a cold and wet Thursday afternoon at the Aztec Aquaplex.
SDSU had 16 steals and the offense materialized during a 9-2 second half, en route to the victory.
“It was a great win,” head coach Carin Crawford said. “We continue to play three lines of very young players who are getting valuable experience”
With a 2-1 lead, Crawford attempted to keep her players warm and ready by having them do sprints during halftime, after what she thought was not the best half for the Aztecs.
“I felt that we started a little slow,” she said. “To only have two goals to show for dominating at halftime, was not up to our standards, but we picked it up in the third quarter and sophomore driver Lindsey Peterson sparked a little run.
The run would total up to an 8-0 streak that lasted from the Aztecs’ first goal in the opening period until the 6:04 mark in the fourth quarter.
Peterson, who scored back-to-back goals to start the third period during the big run and three all together, recognized the slow start and how to overcome it.
“We weren’t expecting this at all,” she said. “I feel like we did have a rough start, but throughout the game, we came together as a team.”
The Aztecs overcame their rough start by scoring nine goals after halftime, and Peterson said the early difficulties helped the team identify problems it needed to fix.
“Exhibition games help us work out the kinks,” Peterson said. “It also brings more depth to our roster.”
The Aztecs have depth on the defensive side with four goalkeepers, led by senior captain Maura Cantoni, who finished with five saves on six shot attempts in two quarters.
Cantoni said her focus is on winning and keeping her teammates attentive, no matter the conditions.
“We had to get people motivated today because it is hard to get in the pool when it is raining,” Cantoni said.
Despite the conditions, the other captain, senior driver Hannah Carrillo, who scored once and added four assists, said the team needs to improve on their problems before the heart of the season.
“Just swimming really hard because it has been a problem for us,” Carrillo said. “Working on communication has also been a weak spot for us.”
Carrillo said the exhibition games help herself and her teammates get ready to face good competition ahead.
“(These exhibition games) gives us another opportunity to play against people that aren’t ourselves since we are so used to scrimmaging against each other.” Carrillo said. “It helps us get a better intensity.”
The intensity is something that will have to be worked on when the Aztecs head up to UC Irvine for the Barbara Kalbus Invitational next weekend with their first game being against No. 1 Southern California.
For Crawford, it will not only be trying to beat the Trojans, but also how playing a No. 1 team will affect them for the future.
“We have played well against some of the top-ranked teams, so I know we can score goals against tough opponents, but we got to get some wins,” Crawford said. “(Southern California gives us) a great opportunity to test ourselves against the No. 1 team, but I feel like it’s going to be what happens after that.”
The Aztecs return to action at the Aquaplex on March 6 when the face Villanova at 3:00 p.m.