Newport Beach, Calif.----- A much-improved team defense keyed the San Jose State University women's water polo team splitting two matches on the final day of the UC Irvine Invitational.
The 11th ranked Spartans (9-8) stopped #12-Pacific, 10-6, and were edged by #7-Arizona State, 7-6, in the ninth-place match.
"We talked about our defense (after day 1) and how we've got to step it up. It was our best day of defense this season," said San Jose State head coach Johnny Bega about the Spartans yielding 13 goals in two matches against a pair of top-15-ranked teams. On the first day of the UC Irvine Invitational, San Jose State gave up 27 scores.
"Everyone was helping out."
On offense, senior Rae Lekness became the San Jose State career scoring leader with her second-quarter power play goal in the Arizona State match. The Calgary, Alberta native passed Adriana Vogt with her 246th career goal and went on to add two more scores in a furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt from a 6-3 deficit at the start of the quarter. Lekness scored 13 goals in four Invitational matches, has 52 for the season and 248 for her career.
San Jose State freshman Carla Toha Vilanova's shot with 0:01 on the clock hit the left post of the goal mouth and bounced away giving the Sun Devils a narrow victory.
"We played out of our minds in the fourth quarter. We could have folded and we had key players in foul trouble," Bega said about the Arizona State contest. "It was a solid match."
The San Jose State coach echoed his "solid" description about the 10-6 win over #12-Pacific (6-11) in the first match of the day.
"We played all four quarters solid and played really well."
Lekness led all players with five goals - three of them in the decisive second quarter as the Spartans built a three-goal halftime lead, 7-4. San Jose State extended its advantage to as many as five, 10-5, after Toha Vilanova's second of the match early in the fourth quarter.
Spartan goalkeeper Alicia Magliocco was credited with seven saves in the Pacific win.
San Jose State returns to action, Saturday, March 5, hosting Stanford in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for teams. Match time at The Aquatics Center is 1:00 p.m.
UC Irvine Invitational women's water polo tournament
Corona del Mar Pool, Newport Beach, Calif.
February 28, 2016
|#11- San Jose State (9-8)||1||1||1||3||6|
|#7-Arizona State (7-3)||2||2||2||1||7|
Arizona State -- Daisy Carter, 3; Ao Gao, 2; Katie Sverchek, Abbery Kerth, 1, each.
Arizona State -- Mia Rycraw, 9.
San Jose State -- 9.
Arizona State -- 10.
|#12 Pacific (6-11)||1||3||1||1||6|
|#11 San Jose State (9-7)||2||5||1||2||10|
Pacific -- Karolina Hlvata, 2; Ellen Tiedemann, Megan Torre, Aelish Guinn, Catie Mahnke, 1, each.
Pacific -- Alexis Hollinrake, 4; Meghann Nee, 2.
San Jose State -- Alicia Magliocco, 7.
Pacific -- 4.
San Jose State -- 3.