SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 17 UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team closed out its five-game slate at the UCSB Winter Invite by splitting its games against No. 14 Wagner College, winning 9-4, and No. 3 UCLA, falling 6-4 to the Bruins.
UCSB vs. Wagner
The first game of the day at the UCSB Rec Center pitted the host Gauchos (4-1) against a Wagner team that was without a win on the season through two games played. The Gauchos would hand the Seahawks (1-3) their third consecutive loss, playing stifling defense throughout and punishing them on the counter with some good passing.
Junior Sarah Snyder opened the scoring a little more than three minutes in, reeling in a great entry pass from senior Shannon Moran and beating the Seahawk goalkeeper with a chip shot. Sophomore Mollie Simmons would double UCSB's lead several possessions later, finding herself with a one-on-one that she finished easily.
After the two teams traded goals to open the second, senior Kate Pipkin would again give UCSB a two-goal lead, 4-2, firing in a deep lob shot inside the far post. Freshman Caitlyn Snyder would win the Gauchos a penalty on the following possession, setting up her sister Sarah for another goal to give UCSB a 5-2 lead heading into halftime.
Wagner would again score first in the third, but a big-time save from point blank range by sophomore Becca Buck would lead to the elder Snyder's third goal of the day on the counter. The two-goal swing made it 6-3 in favor of UCSB. A long-range shot by freshman Kelly Murphy would go in off the crossbar soon after, making it 7-3.
In the final frame, Pipkin would add her second goal of the game and Snyder would secure her fourth, handing UCSB the 9-4 win, its fourth straight to open the season.
UCSB vs. UCLA
Returning to the familiar setting of Campus Pool for the final game of the day, the Gauchos took on the most talented team it would face all weekend in UCLA, which ended the weekend with a perfect 5-0 mark.
After the Bruins took a 2-0 lead out of the gates, shutting UCSB out in the first, the Gauchos would return the favor with a strong second. UCSB held the Bruins scoreless for the entire period, and a Sarah Snyder goal with 1:18 left in the half would bring the Gauchos within one.
UCLA struck first again less than a minute into the third, taking a 3-1 lead, but UCSB again had an answer, with goals from Murphy and Sarah Snyder tying it at 3-3 through three. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the Bruins would take care of business in the final period, scoring the first three goals to take a 6-3 lead and keeping UCSB scoreless until the final seconds, when freshman Amanda Legaspi notched her lone score of the day.
After getting out to their first 4-0 start since 2013, the Gauchos will have a weekend off from competition before playing five games at the Arizona State Invitational from Feb. 1-3.