SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UCSB women's water polo team held its annual end-of-season banquet on Saturday, May 13, celebrating a season which saw the Gauchos get off to the hottest start in program history and earn as high as a No. 8 national ranking – just one spot shy of their highest ranking ever.
Beginning the season as the Big West's defending champions for the first time, the Gauchos got off to a 4-1 start as hosts of the UCSB Winter Invite, defeating back-to-back top 25 ranked teams right out of the gates. That tournament also saw the debuts of a couple key offensive contributors in sophomore Kate Pipkin and freshman Sarah Snyder, who combined for 17 goals through their first five games as Gauchos.
A five-game winning streak in early March would put them at 14-6 overall, tying the program record for the most wins ever through 20 games. The Gauchos' hot start saw them average just under 10 goals per game heading into conference play while boasting a goal differential of +47.
As it has in past years, the team handed out its yearly awards at the banquet, as voted on by the players. Taylor Shore was named MVP after serving as the team's captain in her senior year.
The Corona, California native was outstanding from the season's first sprint, as she went on to lead the Gauchos in goals (46), points (70), steals (77) and drawn ejections (31) on the way to her second consecutive All-Big West selection. She led her team to a perfect 8-0 mark in games where she recorded a hat trick, also notching 16 multi-score games and three four-goal efforts.
After reaching a career-high 46 goals for the second consecutive season, Shore ends her career with 141 goals, ranking No. 6 all-time at UCSB.
Other seniors receiving awards were defender Sophie Trabucco and goalkeeper Devon Gasparini. Trabucco was named the team's Defensive Specialist of the Year for the third time in a row after tallying 16 goals and 11 assists to go along with 32 steals and six field blocks. Gasparini – a player whose efforts came to be marked by an unwavering selflessness and her team-first attitude – was given the Nick Johnson Inspiration Award.
Rounding out the team's award winners were a pair of freshmen in Most Improved player Kate Coski and Rookie of the Year Kenzi Snyder. Earning more and more playing time as the season wore on, Coski finished the year with the fifth-most drawn ejections (16) on the team to go along with eight goals and 11 steals.
Snyder, whose 213 saves this season ranked third in the conference, put together a number of notable performances in first year protecting the Gaucho cage. She tallied double-digit saves in seven different games, but perhaps none were more memorable than her 13-save outing against Long Beach State on Senior Day (Apr. 15).
In that game, Snyder led a Gaucho defense that held a talented 49er team scoreless for just under 20 minutes in the second half as UCSB came back from an early 6-3 deficit. Snyder would make one incredible save after another – recording 13 in total – to keep the Gauchos alive in a match that would take six overtime periods to decide.
To end the night, the team announced that utility Sarah Kreiser was voted as the team's captain heading into the 2018 season. Kreiser put up 26 goals, 11 assists and 23 steals in her sophomore year.
Redshirt sophomore defender Annie Mortimer was also named the team's Golden Eagle Award winner following the banquet.