RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- In its fifth matchup in seven contests against a ranked opponent, No. 20 California Baptist University couldn't hold off No. 13 UC San Diego, falling 9-8 Thursday afternoon.
The loss drops the Lancers to 11-8 overall and 0-2 in the Western Water Polo Association. The Tritons improve to 8-8 on the season and 2-0 in conference action.
"It was a rough loss," said head coach Rick Rowland. "I'm really proud of the way the guys played in the third and fourth quarter. We went on a 6-3 run, but we just need consistency throughout the game."
Cody Wetherbee paced the Lancers with three goals on the day. Goalie Joseph Moorman registered 11 saves to keep CBU in the game.
"When you keep a team under 10 goals, you should be able to win a game," said Rowland. "If you can put together 10 goals, it's good offense. We struggled a bit with the offense today."
Early in the first quarter, Moorman made his first save of the game and quickly put CBU on the attack. Wetherbee netted the first goal of the game to put the Lancers up 1-0, but the lead didn't last long.
UCSD went on a 5-0 rampage to take a 5-1 lead halfway through the second quarter before the Lancers could score again. David Rodriguez finally ended the drought for the Lancers with a power play goal, but just before the buzzer rang for halftime, the Tritons struck again to hold a 6-2 advantage at the break.
"I told Coach Miller at halftime, that buzzer-beater was going to be the one to bite us if we rally back," said Rowland. "We rallied back and lost by one goal. Giving up that goal on the buzzer at halftime hurt us."
The Lancers came out of the half scoring twice off goals from Matt Puig and Keith Jizmejian, putting the game within reach at 6-4. UCSD capitalized to take a three-goal lead again, but Wetherbee powered a five-meter shot home right before the period ended.
"In the second half, we came out and finished our shots," said Rowland. "We let them play their game in the first half and then played our game in the second half. We needed more of that in the first, though."
Trailing 8-5 with 6:30 left in the game, the Lancers turned on the pressure as desperation kicked in. Trevor Rowland scored to put the game back within two at 8-6 and Cameron Custance netted a crucial goal, putting the game at 8-7.
UCSD scored once again, but couldn't hold the two-goal lead for long as Wetherbee found the back of the net with just under four minutes left in the contest. The Lancers pressed but couldn't find the equalizer, ending the game at 9-8 in favor of the Tritons.
"On any given day, I think anyone in our conference can beat the other team," said Rowland. "It comes down to how you finish at the end. We still have three conference games left and then our conference tournament."
CBU heads out on the road for the rest of October, first taking on Claremont Mudd-Scripps at 6 p.m. on Wednesday for a non-conference competition. The Lancers are back at home on Nov. 2 when they host Redlands.