Water polo hosts former players in annual alumni game

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Water polo hosts former players in annual alumni game

Then-sophomore utility Emily Bennett keeps the ball away from a Santa Clara defender during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over the Broncos on March 28, 2019 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Then-sophomore utility Emily Bennett keeps the ball away from a Santa Clara defender during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over the Broncos on March 28, 2019 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Aaron Tolentino

Then-sophomore utility Emily Bennett keeps the ball away from a Santa Clara defender during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over the Broncos on March 28, 2019 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Aaron Tolentino

Aaron Tolentino

Then-sophomore utility Emily Bennett keeps the ball away from a Santa Clara defender during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over the Broncos on March 28, 2019 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

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No. 19 San Diego State water polo kicked off its 2020 season with its annual exhibition match against former players that used to wear the Scarlet and Black, the Alumni.

Clutch saves with 1:06 and 0:40 left in the fourth quarter helped SDSU keep its lead and the game as it won 11-9.

Junior driver Lindsey Peterson led SDSU with three goals, including back-to-back goals at the end of the third quarter, followed by junior utility Emily Bennett scoring twice. 

Although the Aztecs won, head coach Carin Crawford said it was more of a day to commemorate the program. 

“Today is a celebration of Aztec Water Polo,” Crawford said. “I am very proud of the program that we’ve built, that the alums feel like they want to come back and still be part of it.”

The three Aztecs who graduated last season — Hannah Carrillo, Mary Myers and Maura Cantoni — were in attendance. 

Although Cantoni did not play because of injury, Myers and Carrillo played and combined to score five of the alum’s nine goals. 

“Maura was hurt, but Hannah and Mary showed what they did so well last season,” Crawford said. “It’s really sweet.”

In addition to the three newcomers to the alumni squad, other former players were in attendance – some even before Crawford took over as head coach 21 years ago. 

“I had players from the first team I coached in 1999 and there’s even alums that predated my tenure as coach,” Crawford said. “It’s really awesome and I’m really happy that they want to come back and they still got game. It’s just a joy all the way around.”

In the first period, the alumni were unable to score. 

The current Aztecs took advantage and got off to a fast start with three goals, all within the two-meter mark. Bennett, sophomore center Sydney Hurst and Peterson all scored.  

Crawford said the alums were warming up during the first period. 

“It seems like they picked up steam as they went along,” Crawford said. “It does take awhile to shake off the rust. Once they settled in, they found their groove, the muscle memory kicked in and started to show what they could do.”

Despite trailing 3-0 entering the second period, the alums fought back to bring the lead down to 5-3 by the end of the first half.

SDSU started to roll again in the third quarter, as it extended the lead to 10-4 by the end of the frame. The alums, however, made the game interesting by outscoring the current Aztecs 5-1 in the final period.

Leading up to the memorable event, Crawford said the team has been working hard and fighting off difficult practices. 

“We worked and trained all the way through finals this season, so we only had a two-and-a-half, three week break,” Crawford said. “They came back on Jan. 6 and they’ve been doing double or triple days with one day off. I think I’ve got a pretty exhausted team right now, (but) the hardest part of their preseason training is behind us.”

The 2020 season officially begins Jan. 25 at the Beach Invitational at Long Beach State. SDSU has a doubleheader as they face the 49ers at 11 a.m. and La Verne at 3:15 p.m.

Breven Honda is a junior studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @BrevenHonda.

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