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The UCSB women’s water polo team lost any hope of gaining an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a loss in their first game of the Big West Tournament Friday. The third seeded Gauchos were upset by sixth seeded CSU Long Beach in a 4-3 defensive struggle.
“That pretty much eliminates us from the NCAA tournament,” Head Coach Wolf Wigo said. “It’s always hard for the players. They had the hope of getting to the NCAA tournament. We just have to get ourselves back together for the game tomorrow.
Long Beach took an early lead with a goal just 26 seconds into the game, but senior utility Claire Buchanan evened the score with a backhand shot with just under four minutes left in the opening quarter. Neither team scored throughout the next 13 minutes, including all of the second quarter and UCSB and CSULB battled back and forth in an effort to gain the advantage.
Halfway through the third quarter the 49ers managed to retake the lead, but it was short lived. Two minutes later, senior guard Kathryn Nelson took a shot and missed. Buchanan regained the ball for UCSB off the rebound and got it right back to Nelson, who didn’t waste her second chance to tie the game at two.
In the final quarter, however, Long Beach put the game away. The 49ers scored twice to open the quarter, and held back the UCSB drive until there were just 25 seconds left to play, when Nelson scored her second goal of the game. Though now down by just one goal, UCSB ran out of time to finish its comeback, and Long beach took a 4-3 victory.
The Gauchos will now face the fourth seed, Pacific, in the fifth place game on Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific suffered an upset of its own, falling 8-4 to #5 UC Davis. The match will be played in Campus Pool.