SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After a successful 4-1 start to the season hosting the annual UCSB Winter Invite moved the Gauchos up seven spots in the national rankings, the UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team received some more good news Wednesday afternoon, as junior utility Sarah Snyder was named the first Big West Player of the Week of the 2019 season, the conference announced.
Last year's leading goal scorer didn't miss a beat to start the year, as she poured in 14 goals with nine drawn exclusions over five games. She also added two assists.
Snyder finished with at least two goals in all five outings, including back-to-back four-goal, one-assist efforts in the second half of the tournament. Those performances helped UCSB knock off No. 13 Indiana, 15-5, and No. 14 Wagner, 9-4, two teams which held higher preseason national rankings than the No. 17 Gauchos. Snyder also drew four exclusions in the win over the Hoosiers.
Her first two appearances of the season saw her put away two goals against both No. 24 Cal Baptist and Fresno State. UCSB was in complete control in both games as they downed both teams by 10 goals, defeating the Lancers 14-4 and the Bulldogs 15-5.
In the final game of the weekend against No. 3 UCLA, Snyder helped the Gauchos stay close with two goals and an exclusion drawn in a 6-4 defeat, UCSB's only loss of the weekend.
The third year Gaucho's efforts have helped her team improve from a No. 17 to a No. 10 national ranking following just one week of play, the second-biggest jump in the country so far.
This marks the second straight year that the Gauchos have kicked off the Big West Player of the Week awards with a win following the Winter Invite. Last year, it was current senior captain Sarah Kreiser taking home the conference's first honor of the season.