SAN DIEGO — Jefferson Smith, UC San Diego water polo player, got his shot at redemption against Pepperdine recently. He didn't miss.
Smith scored in sudden death overtime to lead No. 10 UCSD past No. 7 Pepperdine, 11-10. The score was tied, 9-9, at the end of regulation and 10-10 after two 3-minute overtime periods.
The victory over Pepperdine was UCSD's second against a top-10 team this season. The Tritons earlier defeated No. 8 UC Santa Barbara, 7-6.
Smith, who played at Hilltop High School, missed a similar chance earlier this month against No. 6 Cal State Long Beach in the Bruin Cup tournament.
With the score tied, 9-9, going into sudden death, UCSD took control of the ball after a miss by Cal State Long Beach.
"We had the biggest, fattest two-on-one," UCSD Coach Denny Harper said. "(Smith) had a one-on-one with the goalie and got stuffed. Long Beach came back down and scored to win it.
"It kind of traumatized Jeff for a few days, so it was neat he was able to get the goal."
Performances as the one Smith had against Pepperdine may lead UCSD (11-10) to its finest water polo season ever. The Tritons' highest previous national finish was 10th in 1981. UCSD has never received one of the eight invitations to the NCAA championships.
UCSD, a Division III team, is vying for one of two at-large berths in the NCAA tournament. Harper helped lead a restructuring of the tournament's selection process in the off-season. The perennially-weak Midwest region will no longer receive an automatic berth. Last season, Air Force advanced from the Midwest region. UCSD defeated the Falcons three times last year, including a 12-3 rout.
This season, the West will receive four berths and the East two. The remaining two teams will be chosen by a selection committee.
"We're playing these (Division I) teams tough," Harper said. "Right now, (the Tritons) are definitely playing as well, if not better than any team I've had."
UCSD has been led by junior goalie Randy Franke, who played at the University of San Diego High School where Harper's wife, Nancy, is coach. The team's leading scorers have been Smith and junior Dave Calder, from Grossmont College and Monte Vista High School.
The Tritons play host to defending NCAA champion Stanford, currently ranked No. 2, Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m. in Canyon View Pool.
The United States International University women's golf team is ranked No. 14 in a preseason poll by Golf Week magazine. Senior Helen Alfredsson is a second-team All-American selection by the magazine. Alfredsson, from Goteborg, Sweden, was an honorable mention All-American after finishing No. 25 in the computer rankings last season and is the two-time defending women's European amateur champion.
The San Diego State men's soccer team has moved back into the nation's top 20. The Aztecs were ranked 19th in the preseason Soccer America poll but dropped out after an early-season loss to Cal State Fullerton. SDSU (12-3) is No. 17 in the nation and No. 3 in the Far West. The Aztecs are bidding to be selected to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1982. Senior Kyle Whittemore leads the team in scoring with 11 goals.
The Aztecs have key matches at Stanford Friday and at home against UCLA (Nov. 4). SDSU will also face No. 4 Indiana (Oct. 31) and No. 16 Notre Dame (Nov. 1) at the UCLA Invitational.
The Grossmont Community College women's volleyball team is ranked No. 1 in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau. The Griffins were ranked No. 2 in the preseason, but have since defeated No. 1 Golden West. Grossmont is coached by Colleen Suwara, who's husband, Rudy, coaches the San Diego State women's volleyball team.
Cuyamaca Community College may have a small athletic department--it only competes in men's soccer--but the Coyotes are leading the Pacific Coast Conference. Cuyamaca, which plays its matches at Grossmont College, is ranked No. 6 in the state and leads the PCC with a 3-0-3 record.
Southwestern College's Ringo Leomiti was named the state linebacker of the week for Oct. 4 by the JC Athletic Bureau.