Men's Water Polo Claims Third at NCAA Championships With Win Over UCSD
BERKELEY, Calif. (12/4/11) - The Princeton men's water polo team rebounded from Saturday's National Semifinal loss with a 9-7 win over UC San Diego in Sunday's third-place game of the NCAA Championships at Cal's Spieker Aquatics Center.
For Princeton it marks the second time in three seasons that the Tigers have finished third in the national tournament as Princeton achieved the same feat back in 2009 when the championships were held at DeNunzio Pool.
Princeton fell behind 2-0 with two quick goals from UC San Diego's Josh Stiling. Princeton answered though with two goals from Drew Hoffenberg to knot the game at 2-2 with five minutes left in the first quarter. From that point the game was either tied or there was a one-goal differential until the Tigers went ahead in the third quarter.
Princeton trailed 3-2 after a quarter but a cross-cage goal from Mike Helou knotted the game at three and after the Tritons went ahead 4-3, Hoffenberg knotted the game up with 53 seconds left in the half to send the game to the intermission tied at 4-4.
The Tritons regained the lead at 5-4 three minutes into the third quarter on a Graham Saber spin around goal but that was the last lead UCSD would have in the game as Thomas Nelson scored off a crossing feed from Hoffenberg at 3:38 and Matt Weber connected on a turnaround shot 30 seconds later to give Princeton its first lead of the game at 3:08 of the third quarter.
Princeton quickly extended the lead to two goals when Hoffenberg converted a 5-meter shot in the first minute of the fourth quarter but Stiling scored at 5:51 and 3:49 to draw UCSD even at 7-7. Neither team could convert on the following two possessions until Princeton countered and scored with 1:34 remaining on a skip shot from Nelson.
The Tigers then dug in defensively and forced UCSD into a shot clock violation at the Tiger end of the pool. Princeton got the ball back and allowed the shot clock to wind down before Nelson took a shot as it expired that beat UCSD goalkeeper David Morton and gave Princeton the two-goal final cushion.
Hoffenberg finished the game with four goals, while Nelson had three for the second game of the Championships. Ben Dearborn made seven saves in the Princeton cage while Morton stopped 15 saves for UCSD.
Following the tournament, Nelson was named to the NCAA All-Tournament First-Team. Hoffenberg was selected on the second team.
Princeton finishes its season with a final record 22-10.
UCSD 3 1 1 2 - 7
PRIN 2 2 2 3 - 9
Goals: Hoffenberg 4, Nelson 3, Helou 1, Weber 1.
Saves: Dearborn 7.