The No. 9 ranked UCSB women’s water polo team came away from its 2017 Winter Invitational with a 4-2 record.
The victories came against No. 22 Cal Baptist, No. 15 Indiana, Pomona-Pitzer and Marist. The two defeats came against No. 8 Michigan and No. 2 USC.
The first contest took place Friday afternoon when the Gauchos faced the Lancers of Cal Baptist in the windy, rainy conditions at Campus Pool. These two teams competed last year in the same event when UCSB won by the score of 10-4.
The Lancers scored the first goal of the game, but UCSB senior defender Sophie Trabucco’s two goals helped turn it around for the Gauchos as they finished out the first quarter with a 3-1 lead.
The momentum quickly swayed back in Cal Baptists’s favor as they tied it up in the second period thanks to some strong defending. The first half ended with UCSB on top 4-3.
Santa Barbara put on a beautiful display of attacking in the third quarter. They outscored Cal Baptist 6-2 in the period to give them what appeared to be a comfortable 10-5 lead heading into the fourth.
Cal Baptist exploded with three goals in the first three minutes of the final quarter. However, freshman utility Sarah Snyder responded by netting her third and fourth goals of the game for the Gauchos. UCSB earned their first win of the season in their Winter Invitational debut 13-8.
Later that Friday afternoon, UCSB went up against Indiana in a top-15 battle. UCSB was first on the board thanks to senior captain Taylor Shore. Moments later, Snyder scored her fifth total goal of the day. Indiana returned the favor with two goals of their own to end the first quarter at two goals apiece.
The second quarter passed in the same fashion as the Gauchos scored the first two goals before the Hoosiers answered with a pair of goals to tie it up.
That was the last of Indiana’s scoring for the game, because UCSB didn’t concede a goal for the entire second half. Sophomore utility and former Hoosier Kate Pipkin scored two goals in the second half against her former team.
The Gauchos ended the day with an 8-4 victory, looking confident for the games ahead.
Day two of the Winter Invitational brought better weather and provided a tougher opponent in No. 8 Michigan. This was a defensive battle from the start. The first quarter came to a close with the score of 1-1 in an even matchup.
The second quarter began with a quick goal from the Gauchos when freshman utility Abbey Grosse gave a nifty lob pass over the defender to Taylor Shore, who slotted it home for the goal.
With about two minutes left in the half, the Wolverines scored to even it up at 2-2. The Gauchos went on to earn a power play with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half as head coach Serela Kay called a timeout. The ensuing play led to Shore finding the prolific Snyder for the goal to take the lead at 3-2.
Michigan quickly responded with a lob shot attempt that landed on the line of the goal as the buzzer sounded, resulting in a no goal call from the referees.
Michigan threw in three goals in the third as they began to pull away. UCSB found themselves down 4-5 heading into the final period.
The Wolverine defense stepped up in the fourth period, making it difficult for the Gaucho attack time and time again. UCSB was unable to score in the quarter and was defeated 4-7.
“The Michigan game really sticks out in my mind because we controlled the game all the way until the fourth quarter,” said Kay. “We’re young, so the fourth quarter moments and game situation moments are really important for us.”
About an hour later, UCSB had to jump back in the pool for another game as they faced off against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. The Gauchos dominated from start to finish.
Freshman attacker Natalie Selin scored a first quarter hat-trick as the Gauchos led 5-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Shore earned another hat-trick as UCSB went up 9-3. Pomona-Pitzer added a couple more goals to their tally, but UCSB eventually earned their third win of the weekend by the score of 15-5.
The final day of the Winter Invite was layered with heavy rain and constant winds when UCSB squared off versus Marist, which scored double digit goals in its first two games.
The Gauchos stayed with their defensive theme in this game, holding the Red Foxes to only two goals in the first half. UCSB’s balanced attack resulted in seven goals to make it 7-2 at the break.
Santa Barbara continued to make it difficult for Marist, which could only total five goals in the entire contest. Snyder and Shore stayed on their terrific goal-scoring pace, each scoring in the third quarter.
The Gauchos finished off the Red Foxes by the score of 11-5 to earn their fourth victory of the weekend.
As the rain slowly died down, UCSB took the pool against powerhouse No. 2 USC in the final game of the 2017 Winter Invitational. USC came into the game with an average margin of victory of over 11 goals in their previous four games at the Winter Invite.
The Trojans continued their goal-scoring frenzy, pouring in seven goals in the first period of play. The Gauchos struggled to get anything together as they trailed 2-12 at the half.
Snyder, Selin, Trabucco and senior attacker Brenna Thomas scored the Gauchos five goals in the game. USC never took its foot off the gas, winning 19-5 to give it an undefeated record for the weekend.
Despite the tough loss to close out their host event, the Gauchos felt good about their performances throughout the weekend.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Kay said. “I’m actually happy that the weather came in and was windy and stormy; I think it gave us something that we’re really not used to so I think it’ll make us stronger in the end.”
Shore and Snyder led the team in goals with 11 each. The standout freshman Snyder was very productive over the weekend in her first action with the team.
“She [Snyder] can play on the outside and on the inside,” Kay said. “She was scoring on power plays, on the perimeter and in front of the cage. She’s a scorer. She’s a finisher. She has no fear.”
Next weekend, UCSB will make the trip to Tempe, Ariz., home of Arizona State, to take part in the Arizona State Invitational.