Gauchos Fall to No. 1 UC Irvine in Big West Tournament Semifinals

Kate Pipkin (Photo by Minette Rubin)
Kate Pipkin (Photo by Minette Rubin)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The No. 4 UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team fell to No. 1 seed UC Irvine 5-2 in the Big West Tournament Semifinals on Saturday at LBSU's Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center.

The Gauchos are now 21-8 on the season and will play in tomorrow's third place match at noon. The Anteaters improve to 19-8 overall with their sixth consecutive win.

In what was a defensive stalemate of a first half, neither team was able to crack the scoresheet until the final minute, as senior Kate Pipkin opened the scoring with 24 ticks remaining before halftime. She was assisted by freshman Caitlyn Snyder, who tallied her team-leading 33rd helper of the season.

UCI's offense would wake up in the second half. The Anteaters reeled off three unanswered, taking their first lead on an Isabel Rack goal with 22 seconds left in the third. Tara Prentice would double their lead with a penalty to open the final frame, scoring her first of two goals in the fourth.

Freshman Amanda Legaspi brought the Gauchos back within a single score midway through the fourth, securing her first goal of the postseason to make it 3-2. However, Prentice would need just 23 seconds to double UCI's lead once more, and Toni Shackelford would provide the dagger with just under a minute to go for the final goal of the match.

It was another spectacular effort for junior goalkeeper Kenzi Snyder, who followed up yesterday's season-high of 16 saves with 15 more stops in goal. UCI keeper Morgan Jones finished with nine saves.

Caitlyn Snyder and Mollie Simmons also chipped in on the defensive end with three steals and two steals, respectively.

Tomorrow, the Gauchos will face No. 3 UC Davis (18-11) in the Big West Tournament Third Place Match. UCSB has already seen the Aggies twice this year, defeating them 11-5 at the Triton Invitational in February and falling 11-10 during Big West play in April.