Water polo splits doubleheader– lose to No. 17 Long Beach State and beat No. 24 Bucknell

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Water polo splits doubleheader– lose to No. 17 Long Beach State and beat No. 24 Bucknell

Sophomore utility Maddie Higginson handles the ball during the Aztecs 12-9 loss to the SDSU alumni at the Aztec Aquaplex on Jan. 26.

Sophomore utility Maddie Higginson handles the ball during the Aztecs 12-9 loss to the SDSU alumni at the Aztec Aquaplex on Jan. 26.

Abraham Jewett

Sophomore utility Maddie Higginson handles the ball during the Aztecs 12-9 loss to the SDSU alumni at the Aztec Aquaplex on Jan. 26.

Abraham Jewett

Abraham Jewett

Sophomore utility Maddie Higginson handles the ball during the Aztecs 12-9 loss to the SDSU alumni at the Aztec Aquaplex on Jan. 26.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

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In a doubleheader, No. 22 San Diego State water polo lost to No. 17 Long Beach State 7-6 and beat No. 24 Bucknell 12-8 on March 9 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

After the first game, head coach Carin Crawford said how the team was able to improve defensively.

“Our defense was better,” Crawford said. “We had a lot more hustle and willingness to help each other and crash back at center, so I was pleased overall. I felt that we had good defensive stops.”

The Aztecs recorded their second consecutive 12-steal game, but the home team could not convert on the power play opportunities.

“An area for improvement would be our power play,” Crawford said. “We were 2-10 and if we could get to 4-10 in a close game, 40 percent is pretty good and that would be a difference maker in a game like this.”

Defensively, junior driver Maddy Parenteau had a game-high four steals.

“I thought Maddy (Parenteau) countered well.” Crawford said. “She had steals and especially at the end of game when we were running our press-to-steal defense, she came up with key saves and shot the ball in such a way that we got extra possessions.”

Parenteau said SDSU’s defense was something they focused on more of in the past few contests.

“We focused on defense more than the past few games,” Parenteau said. “I thought we did a really good job, but we didn’t put our shots away.”

Senior captain Hannah Carrillo has provided both offensive and defensive consistency.

“I try to make sure that I am making an impact in some way,” Carrillo said. “If not scoring, then I can do other things like playing better defense or getting assists for the team.”

Crawford said how Carrillo shows her guidance to the team, especially as a senior.

“Hannah is always that consistent performer for us and I thought today was no different,” Crawford said. “She’s shown her consistency and leadership as captain and what it means to play like a senior.”

In game two, SDSU and Bucknell scored early, totaling 14 goals and a two-point lead for the Scarlet and Black at halftime.

Crawford said how the win was more defensive-minded during the match.

“I think it was a much needed win,” Crawford said. “As the game went on, our defense improved.”

Defense seemed big as senior goalkeeper Maura Cantoni saved nine goals from scoring Bucknell’s way.

Cantoni said the past four games helped the team focused together.

“For us, we’re trying to play as team, no matter what,” Cantoni said. “Sometimes the game aren’t going our way, but we have to fight back; that’s something we’ve been struggling with, grinding out the tougher games, making sure we answer back every goal and keep our intensity high.”

Offensively, four of the 12 SDSU goals were scored by freshman center Sydney Hurst.

“I am proud of all of us,” Hurst said. “We’re extremely unified and we needed that last game, (especially) coming off super hard losses to Long Beach and Azusa Pacific.”

The Aztecs still remember playing four ranked teams, highlighted by No. 1 Southern California, in the Barbara Kalbus Invitational in Irvine, Calf. a couple of weeks ago.

Playing those four teams helped this team have the ability to play back-to-back ranked teams.

Hurst said how this win can help the team moving forward.

“Good competition is really beneficial,” Hurst said. “Playing against players that is at or above our level always ups our game and keeps us committed to our core values– being unified and intense.”

Overall, the Aztecs went 2-2 during the Aztec Invitational. Up next, the Aztecs stay home and continue their 8-game homestand with No. 8 UC Irvine on March 15 and conference opponent Concordia the following day.

“It’s going to be a big week,” Crawford said. “UCI is a tremendous team. They are really fast. It will challenge our swimming, our counter-attack defense and patience on defense.”

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