San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

No. 24 Aztec Women’s Water Polo finish fourth in Golden Coast Conference Championship Tournament

SDSU defeated Concordia in the quarterfinals but fell to Fresno State in the semifinals before losing to Loyola Marymount in the third-place game
Isabella Biunno
Sophomore Rose Kanemy defends a Westcliff opponent during the Aztec Invitational on March 12, 2023.

The Aztec Aquaplex, home to the No. 24-ranked San Diego State water polo program, hosted the 2023 Golden Coast Conference (GCC) Championship Tournament from Friday to Sunday, April 28-30 where the Aztecs finished fourth.

Quarterfinals: No. 24 San Diego State 15, Concordia 8

San Diego State, who went to overtime to defeat Concordia University in their first meeting in the regular season, pounced on the Golden Eagles in the first quarter and secured a 15-8 victory in the quarterfinals of the Golden Coast Conference (GCC) Championship Tournament on Friday. 

Early in the first quarter, CUI (15-16) scored the opening goal within 43 seconds, but the Scarlet and Black scored five unanswered goals to take a 5-1 lead. Sophomore attacker Rose Kanemy found the back of the net 40 seconds after Concordia’s first goal and was soon followed by graduate attacker Amanda Legaspi at the 5:50 mark, as well as junior attacker Kendall Houck with 4:26 to go, senior Katie Ratcliff at 3:39, and Legaspi again with 1:23 to play in the first. The Golden Eagles got the final goal of the first quarter to send the game to the second with SDSU up 5-2.

Head Coach Dana Ochsner spoke on how the San Diego State offense stayed consistent and contained Concordia, scoring five unanswered goals after CUI went up 1-0 to start the game. 

“We let them have it but then we recognized just how good of a team we are,” Ochsner said. “We put on our strengths, using our speed, locking in our team defense, and then capitalizing on those opportunities that we did have.” 

Freshman attacker Claudia Valdes scored her first goal of the game 31 seconds into the second quarter, extending San Diego State’s lead to 6-2. With 6:49 left to play in the first half, Concordia got the score back within range. Graduate defender Samantha Loughlin and Ratcliff both scored back-to-back goals to push the lead to 8-3 late in the second quarter. CUI and SDSU traded goals near the end of the first half with freshman attacker Sydney Gish scoring the final goal of the half with 14 seconds left to go up 9-4. 

Coming out of the half, the Aztecs scored four straight times to take the game out of reach 13-4. Houck started the four-goal run in the second half at 7:32, soon after Valdes at 6:36, Houck hit again at 3:25 and Legaspi scored her third goal of the game with 1:36 to play in the third. CUI sent the game to the fourth quarter, scoring twice in the final 1:08 of the period, with San Diego State up 13-6. 

Teams traded the final four goals of the game, as Valdes scored at 6:12 to mark her third of the game, and freshman Shannon Murphy’s score was made between a pair of Golden Eagles goals which made it 15-8, the final score. 

Goalies freshman Mandy Lagerlof and Tiaare Ahovelo combined for 15 saves, Lagerlof with 6, and Ahovelo with 9. With many crucial and key saves to keep San Diego State on top, Ochsner spoke on how goalies such as Lagerlof stepped up when they needed to. 

“To make big saves is absolutely what keeps us in games and it’s so exciting that she’s only a freshman and really stepped up in what can be a very scary first GCC tournament game,” Ochsner said. “I think she didn’t let nerves get to her at all, and she came ready to play which was awesome.” 

Semifinals: No. 24 San Diego State 11, Fresno State 15 

San Diego State water polo, ranked No. 24 in the nation, was only the second team outside the top 10 to score double digits against No. 8 Fresno State this year, but it wasn’t enough as the Aztecs fell 15-11 to the Bulldogs in the semifinal round of the Golden Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Aztec Aquaplex.

After the Bulldogs, the top seed in the tournament scored in the first 17 seconds of the game, Houck scored a goal at the 4:35 mark. Loughlin helped give SDSU the lead with a goal with 3:16 remaining in the quarter, but Fresno State scored the last three goals of the quarter to go up 4-2 after eight minutes. 

The Bulldogs continued, scoring the first four goals of the second period to extend the lead to 8-2. At 2:36 before the half, senior Danni Croteau scored a goal, but 20 seconds following, Fresno State answered with one of their own. The Aztecs scored three straight goals to cut the score to 9-6. Kanemy scored a goal at the 1:31 mark, while sophomore defender Sophia Righetti scored a goal herself with 1:03 remaining in the half. Valdes finished the run of goals for San Diego State, with less than 26 seconds to go. As time was expiring off the clock before the half, Fresno State (17-8) snuck a last-second goal in to take a 10-6 lead going into the half. 

Legaspi scored the first goal to kick off the third quarter, but Fresno State got the next three scores to tally the score up to 13-7. Righetti scored with 1:50 left in the third to put the Scarlet and Black behind 13-8 entering the fourth quarter. In the final eight minutes, the Bulldogs scored once again to make it 14-8 with 5:09 on the clock. Croteau scored back-to-back goals to get the Aztecs back within range at 14-10, But Fresno State extended their lead to five with 1:59 left, as Kanemy made the last goal of the game, hitting the back of the cage as time expired for the final score 15-11. 

The Aztecs fell out of contention for the conference championship with the defeat to Fresno State. Coach Ochsner noted how Fresno State played once they were able to overcome the Aztecs’ early lead and what hurt the team from gaining any momentum soon afterward. 

“It took them maybe a little bit by surprise that we came out so ready to play and they definitely made the adjustments,” Ochsner said. “They recognized how we were getting our looks, they adjusted quickly and made sure to capitalize on that.”

For the goalies, Lagerlof played the first three quarters, surrendering 13 goals, and having only five saves, while Ahovelo finished the game in the fourth period, allowing two goals and having a save of her own. 

Third place game: No. 24 San Diego State 6, Loyola Marymount 14 

The Aztecs led 4-3 late in the first quarter but had trouble finding the back of the cage from there and lost 14-6 to LMU in the third-place game of the 2023 Golden Coast Conference Tournament on Sunday morning at Aztec Aquaplex. The loss cemented the Aztecs fourth place finish in the tournament. 

Legaspi scored in the first 36 seconds to give the Aztecs a 1-0 lead. LMU came right back and responded, scoring the next two goals. Kanemy hit the back of the cage at the 4:13 point of the quarter, tying the game up 2-2, and following a Lions goal to regain the lead, Kanemy wasn’t done and scored again, beating the LMU goalie inside the far post of the goal to even the score 3-3 with 3:27 remaining in the period. 

Legaspi led the Scarlet and Black to an advantage on her second score of the game at 2:17, but LMU came prepared to tie the score 4-4, in addition to scoring the final goal of the period to lead the game 5-4 after the first eight minutes of action. Loyola Marymount continued to deflate any momentum the Aztecs had, scoring the first four goals of the second quarter, to lead the game 9-4. Valdes halted the Lions briefly with a goal at the 1:06 mark to send SDSU to the locker room trailing at half 9-5. 

Coming out of the half, the two teams applied pressure and it took nearly four minutes for another score to come. When it did come, LMU scored at 4:06 in the quarter and added two more within eight minutes left to make the score 12-5. The Lions scored once again on their first possession of the final quarter to move the lead to 13-5, soon after adding another to make it 14-5. SDSU didn’t get anything going offensively, but finally broke a 12-minute scoring drought with freshman Syndey Spence scoring the last goal of the game with 5:04 left in the game. No team scored in the final minutes, to bring the final score to 14-6. 

Head Coach Dana Ochsner spoke on the incredible season the Scarlet and Black were able to mount together, advancing to the semifinals, and being led by players across all classes, as well as how the team was able to be a part of the culture and winning team. 

“I’ve got to work thankfully with these seniors and juniors and sophomores in the past so I knew exactly the kind of girls I’d have,” Ochsner said. “It was really exciting to see what the freshmen were going to do and bring in. They exceeded my expectations. I think the best part was to just see how we come together as a team. “It’s just been a joy for me to be able to see the growth in these players, and also experiencing growth for myself and really learn what it’s like to be a head coach and embrace this role.”

About the Contributors
Roman Aguilar
Roman Aguilar, '24-25 Sports Editor, '23 -24 Sports Editor
Roman Aguilar (he/him/his) is a second-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations from Stockton, California. Since he was little, he loved watching sports and being able to tell a good story out of an exciting game matchup. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022 as a contributor and staff writer for the sports section, covering a multitude of sports including football, men's basketball, and water polo, before moving on to sports editor. Aguilar is also a blog writer for KCR College Radio, attending concerts and having the opportunity to cover shows and interview artists. When he isn't writing articles related to music or sports, you can see Roman going to local concert shows on a near-weekly basis and watching his favorite horror movies.
Isabella Biunno
Isabella Biunno, '24-25 Managing Editor, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
No. 24 Aztec Women’s Water Polo finish fourth in Golden Coast Conference Championship Tournament