It was a battle of defenses on Tuesday at Campus Pool when #4 Hawaii narrowly defeated the #12 UCSB women’s water polo team 7-6.
Hawaii (12-8 overall, 8-3 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) took advantage of holding the lead for two periods, but the Gauchos (13-15 overall, 2-6 in MPSF) continued to fight, scoring three goals in the fourth period before losing by one point.
The Rainbows got on board first with a lob shot from sophomore utility Kelly Mason three minutes into the first period. The Gaucho defense was solid and kept the score at one, until Mason scored her second goal from seven meters near the end of the period to give Hawaii a 2-0 advantage. The first period saw four saves from Rainbow goalie Meike De Nooy and the Gaucho’s junior goalie Jenny Gonzales.
At the beginning of the second, defense kept the game scoreless until Gauchos senior defender Aimee Stachowski and sophomore defender Kaitlin Kubas stole the ball from Hawaii, allowing freshman attacker Taylor Byrne to score and put the Gauchos on the scoreboard. However, the Rainbow’s Mason converted a hat trick with 3:22 remaining in the first half of the game and a goal from senior utility Brittany Dames gave Hawaii a 4-1 lead.
During the second half, the Gauchos got on board first with back-to-back goals by senior center Sarah Kovach to cut Hawaii’s lead by one. Hawaii answered back with a goal by freshman driver Angela Turnbull and senior 2M defender Amy Logan to make it 6-3.
Two minutes into the fourth, Hawaii took a 7-3 lead, but the Gauchos responded with three consecutive goals. Stachowski scored her first goal with 1:48 left in regulation to make it 7-5. The Gauchos responded again with a goal from sophomore utility Gillian Morgan with 1:03 left on the clock to cut the deficit to one. Kovach had an opportunity to tie the game with a sweep shot but it missed the goal by inches, giving Hawaii the victory. Recognitions go to both goalies as Gonzales blocked 11 and Hawaii’s Nooy stopped 15.