No. 10 Gauchos Pull Away to Top No. 25 Azusa Pacific 12-7

Amelia Meckelborg (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Amelia Meckelborg (Photo by Jeff Liang)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The No. 10 UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team continued its hot start to the season on Friday, defeating No. 25 Azusa Pacific 12-7 on day one of the Arizona State Cross Conference Challenge.

Nine Gauchos would find the scoresheet on the day, helping UCSB improve to 5-1 to open the 2019 season. Attacker Mollie Simmons and utilities Kate Coski and Sarah Snyder led the way with two goals apiece.

While UCSB would dominate most of the way, it was the Cougars (2-6) who came out strong, taking a 2-0 lead and handing the Gauchos a rare scoreless quarter to open the game. However, three straight UCSB goals to open the second – the first, a penalty from Kate Pipkin, followed by two more from Sarah Snyder and Caitlyn Snyder – would kickstart a commanding 10-2 run as the Gauchos seized control.

Santa Barbara outscored APU 6-1 in the second frame, the most lopsided quarter of the match. Goals by Simmons, Coski and freshman Sarah Owens over the final four minutes would send the Gauchos into halftime leading 6-3. Owens also had two assists on the day, tying for team-high honors with sophomore Amelia Meckelborg.

Things would quiet back down a bit in the third, as the two sides matched each other with one goal apiece. Simmons secured her brace, scoring her second of the day with 49 seconds left to make it 7-4 in favor of the Gauchos.

The final period would see a total of eight goals, five from UCSB and three for Azusa Pacific. The Gauchos came out firing for three unanswered, the first on a power play by freshman Amanda Legaspi followed by goals from freshman Kelly Murphy and Coski several minutes later, putting the Gauchos up 10-4.

With 2:35 to go, freshman Dani Kauahi would put away her first score as a Gaucho. Sarah Snyder would score UCSB's final goal of the day in the final minute. Snyder now has 16 goals through six games, still having scored at least twice in every outing.

In the cage, goalkeepers Kenzi Snyder and Becca Buck both tallied four saves and an assist each. Snyder also added a steal.

With the win, Santa Barbara improves to 4-1 against ranked opponents this season.

Tomorrow, UCSB returns to Mona Plummer Aquatic Center for two more games against No. 12 Princeton (8:00 a.m. PST) and No. 24 California Baptist (11:45 a.m.).