The No. 13 UCSB women’s water polo team wrapped up its Winter Invitational with a 3-2 overall record.
The first two losses of the season for the Gauchos came from national powerhouses No.2 UCLA and No.4 Cal.
UCSB saw its first action against Cal on Friday afternoon. Senior center Lauren Martin finished off her first game since 2014 with four goals, making her the lead scorer of the game.
“She’s [Lauren] been sitting for over a year waiting to play, she’s excited and we’re excited to have her back in the paint to fill that roll and she’s doing great,” Head Coach Serela Kay said.
The Gauchos managed to get on the scoreboard at the 4:52 mark of the first period with a goal by junior attacker Brenna Thomas. With only 27 seconds left in the period, sophomore driver Carla Carraga tied the score for the Golden Bears with a short-range shot.
Cal then went on a 2-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the game. After a timeout called by the Gauchos, junior utility Miranda Schrader put it in the back of the net to tie the game up 2-2 before going into half time.
In the third period, the Gauchos claimed the lead once again off of a foul transition. The game went back and forth as Cal evened the score at the 4:10 mark only to be answered by Martin’s backhand scoring play, putting the Gauchos in the lead 5-4.
As the battle continued, UCSB was able to contain the Bears’ offense until the last seven seconds of regulation when Carrega tied the match sending it into overtime.
The first period of overtime went on scoreless, and it wasn’t until the 1:31 mark of the second period when the Bears found the winning goal by junior driver Genevieive Weed.
On the second day of the tournament, the Gauchos played Cal Baptist in the afternoon with junior utility Taylor Shore, senior attacker Bryn Hudson and Martin each scoring two goals each.
UCSB’s defense remained strong as it held off the Lancers, keeping them scoreless until midway of the second quarter, which by that point the Gauchos were already up 5-0. At the 4:42 mark Cal Baptist scored its first goal of the match, but was quickly answered by freshman utility Sarah Kreiser to maintain the five-point lead.
Although the Lancers scored two more in the fourth quarter to shorten the lead 9-4, the Gauchos put one more away to end the game in a 10-4 victory.
Later that night, UCSB faced its toughest competitor of the tournament, the UCLA Bruins. Despite having scored first, the Gauchos were not able to maintain its lead as the Bruins went on a 5-0 unanswered scoring streak.
“I think we are countering well and we got good patience, something to improve on is reacting quicker on defense,” Kay said postgame.
The first quarter ended with UCLA on top 3-1, which carried its momentum into the second quarter scoring within the period’s first minute. Although the Gauchos had the opportunity to strike back, they did not capitalize on the two back-to-back offensive fouls committed by the Bruins.
Following the second period, the Gauchos managed to score two more goals, reducing their deficit to 6-3 to which the Bruins reacted quickly.
Despite UCSB’s efforts to catch up, UCLA did not give up the three-point lead ending the game 8-5 with a victory for the Bruins.
“It is always fun to play against UCLA for me, those were my glory days and it is always a blast,” Kay said after facing her alma mater.
On Sunday, the Gauchos wrapped up its Winter Invitational with a sweep over No.21 UCSD and No.20 Wagner.
The Tritons were looking to finish the weekend with a perfect record in the first game of the day. However, after an intense seesaw game the Gauchos spoiled it for UCSD finishing on top 10-9.
Both teams came out slow in the first quarter, and couldn’t seem to find the net. The Tritons opened up the board with a goal at the 5:26 mark to which the Gauchos counter attacked and scored a point to end the first quarter in a tie.
Things got going in the second quarter as both teams scored a couple of goals, finishing the first half of the game with UCSB leading 5-4.
It was an exciting fourth quarter in which the Tritons would fight back and tie the game on three separate occasions. Two of these were penalty shots from Alexia Wieseler.
Unable to surpass a one-point lead, UCSB was aware of the importance to keep possession of the ball for as long as it could. After Schrader tallied a goal, the Gauchos held on to the ball and let the clock run to end the game with a close win over the Tritons.
Despite a long weekend, the Gauchos remained focused and strong in their last game against Wagner. Great work on both ends of the pool helped defeat the Seahawks, 10-6.
UCSB did not lose any time and put away two scores within the first minute and a half. The biggest lead came in the third quarter as the Gauchos held Wagner down 7-2.
After that, the Gauchos did not allow the Seahawks to get closer than three points.
Senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Brokaw recorded a season-high of 15 saves during the game while Shore ended the day as UCSB’s leading scorer with five goals. Martin had six ejections total and three steals to contribute to the Gauchos’ total of 15.
“I’m happy with the team’s performance,” Kay said. “I really think we are playing with the best, but we still have a lot of areas to polish up, like technical skills and simple awareness.”
The Gauchos will continue their season on the road, as they head to Ann Arbor for the Michigan Invitational this upcoming weekend.