With 1:46 left in triple overtime, senior Katie Rigler scored the game-winner to edge the eighth-ranked Princeton women’s water polo team past No. 13 UC San Diego, 14-13, Saturday to open the Aztec Invitational and extend the Tigers’ season-opening win streak to 15.
After playing three extra periods to kick off their California road trip, the Tigers were unable overcome a second half rally by No. 10 San Jose State and suffered their first loss of the year, 10-6.
Princeton’s 15 consecutive wins now sits alone as the fourth longest win streak in team history. The Tigers (15-1) will look to get back into the win column Sunday versus Cal Lutheran at 2:45 p.m. ET and host No. 19 San Diego State at 7:45 p.m. ET to wrap up the tournament.
Rigler led the Tigers with seven goals on the day, followed by Jessie Holechek who added five of her own.
Spanning 11 periods between the pipes, sophomore goalie Ashleigh Johnson amassed 28 saves, an assist and a steal in just over 71 minutes of work.
Like the two previous meetings versus UC San Diego, it was a contentious battle for control. Princeton took the early lead, 5-4, in the first, but the Tritons managed to knot the score six-all entering halftime.
Trailing 11-10 with 2:47 left in regulation, Princeton forced its first overtime period behind its final push and a Holechek goal.
Taylor Dunstan set up the go-ahead goal in the first overtime, drawing a 5-meter penalty and Rigler converted to establish a 12-11 lead. The second extra period saw UCSD retake the lead 13-12 before Princeton’s final surge sent the game into sudden death overtime.
In a 6-on-5 opportunity, Princeton took possession and found Rigler on the near side. After a couple pumps of the ball she slammed in the winning goal high on the near side.
She finished with a team-high four goals, while Holechek added a hat trick, and Ashley Hatcher and Diana Murphy netted a pair each. Hatcher also recorded three assists and Holechek had two.
In the longest game of her career, goalie Johnson posted 15 saves, a steal and an assist.
No. 8 Princeton: 5 – 1 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 14
No. 13 UC San Diego: 4 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 0 – 2 – 0 – 13
Goals: Murphy 2, Hatcher 2, McBee 1, Rigler 4, Temple 1, Klein 1, Holechek 3
Assists: Hatcher 3, Klein 1, Holechek 2, Johnson 1
Steals: Hatcher 1, McBee 1, Holechek 1, Johnson 1
Saves: Johnson 15
Despite taking an early lead, the Tigers were unable to contain San Jose State over the second half and suffered their first loss of the year.
Rigler recorded a hat trick in the first quarter to put Princeton up 3-2, before the Spartans tied it up, 4-4, at the break.
Coming off its 3-2 run in the second quarter, SJSU maintained its momentum and went on to outscore the Tigers 6-2 over the second half.
Rigler recorded her 12th multi-goal effort, behind her team-high three goals. She has now scored three goals or more in six games this year.
Holechek added two goals and Dunstan accounted for all three Tiger assists in the game.
No. 8 Princeton: 3 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 6
No. 10 San Jose State: 2 – 2 – 4 – 2 – 10
Goals: Rigler 3, Temple 1, Holechek 2
Assists: Dunstan 3
Steals: Murphy 1, Rigler 1
Saves: Johnson 13