The #11 UCSB women’s water polo team continued its strong play of late, defeating #15 Irvine 6-5 at Campus Pool on Sunday.

Senior two-meter offense Erin Lezak scored the game-winning goal with 18 seconds left, finishing off a strong comeback for the Gauchos. The goal was Lezak’s 33rd of the season.

The Anteaters (14-5, 1-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) looked as if they were going to run away with the game early on when freshman two-meter Adelaide Perram’s goal made the score 3-0. But the Gauchos (14-9, 2-4) were able to rally as senior two-meter defense Teresa Gorbett banked a shot off of the left post at the 5:09 mark. Gorbett tallied her team-leading 37th goal of the season later in the quarter, and behind the efforts of junior goalkeeper Kristen McGlennon, Santa Barbara was within one goal at the intermission. Gorbett has now scored in 10 straight games.

“They got three quick goals in the first few minutes from the outside, so we pulled all of our starters out to refocus,” Gorbett said.

Sophomore utility Katy Kunkel and freshman utility Alaina Whitaker carried UCSB out of the break. Kunkel scored two goals and Whitaker scored one as the Gauchos took a 5-3 lead.

With one minute to play in the third quarter, the Gauchos surrendered a goal to junior utility Melissa Fernandez, inching the Anteaters closer. Irvine tied the game up at 5:56 in the fourth quarter when junior utility Erica Horman scored her second goal of the day.

The game remained tight throughout the final quarter, until the Gauchos got a defensive stop with under a minute to play and immediately called a timeout. Santa Barbara worked the shot clock to 10 seconds before freshman utility Jen D’Anna found Lezak in the corner. Irvine native Lezak scored past junior goalie Sunceray Chamblee for the Gaucho win.

“Coach called a timeout to set up the play,” Gorbett said. “It’s a play we run every day in practice, and we knew we just had to execute it.”

The weekend started out on a down note for Santa Barbara, as the team saw its six-game win streak snapped at the hands of #6 San Diego State on Saturday at Campus Pool.

Gorbett put the Gauchos ahead 2-1 at the 4:54 mark in the second quarter. But the Aztecs would respond with three unanswered goals to take control of the game 4-2. Junior two-meter Holly Hartzell came out of the halftime break scoring two goals for the Aztecs, adding to her game-high 4 goals. SDSU junior goalkeeper Ashley Zabel held Santa Barbara to one goal throughout the rest of the match, aiding her team to a 6-3 win.

But the defeat was only a minor setback to Gauchos, who have won seven of their last eight games, including decisive wins against #8 Hawaii and #20 Arizona State over the last few weeks. The Gauchos travel to Berkeley on Friday to face the #3 Golden Bears.

“We have to play good defense and put away our opportunities,” Gorbett said.