UCSB Takes Second at Inaugural Big West Championships

April 26, 2009

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STOCKTON, Calif. - The fourth-seeded UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team had its impressive run through the inaugural Big West Conference Women's Water Polo Championship end with a 13-9 loss to second-seeded UC Irvine on Sunday afternoon at Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Pool.

The Gauchos end the 2009 season with an overall record of 17-12, recording 11 more wins than in the 2008 campaign. UC Irvine finishes at 23-9 overall. An automatic bid into the 2009 NCAA Championships will not be rewarded to the Big West's winner until the 2011 season.

The Anteaters struck first with a pair of six-on-five goals from Erin Kiene less than a minute apart. UCSB fought back with a six-on-five goal of its own from Amanda Tipton with just over two minutes to go in the quarter. Irvine pushed its lead back to two when Caitlin Haskell scored from the post during yet another power play.

Trailing 3-1 after eight minutes of play, the Gauchos scored first in the second quarter when Claire Buchanan put away the ball from the post position during a man-up opportunity. Just seconds later, Irvine's Gianna Rossi - the eventual tournament MVP - followed with a goal out of two-meters to put the Anteaters up 4-2.

Jillian Waldron put the Gauchos back within one with a lob shot, cutting the score to 4-3 with 5:41 remaining in the half. Cortney Collyer and Fancher posted back-to-back goals to give Irvine its biggest lead of the game at 6-3. UCSB fought back and Cailee Kilroy scored a six-on-five goal with just under two minutes to play in the first half. Irvine drew a five-meter penalty late in the period, but goalkeeper Chelsea Carrillo stopped the shot and kept the Gaucho deficit at two goals heading into the break.

Kat Plummer opened the scoring in the third period, putting away the Anteaters' fourth power play goal of the game. Gillian Morgan responded with a six-on-five goal of her own just over a minute later, keeping the Gauchos close at 7-5.

Irvine's offense caught fire and three straight goals ensued as the Anteaters gained their largest lead at 10-5 with 3:44 on the clock. Alisha Khan stopped the bleeding, scoring on an outside shot, and Buchanan followed with a breakaway goal to cut the Irvine lead to 10-7. The Anteaters had the last say in the quarter when Collyer scored her third of the game with a lob shot.

Trailing 11-7, the Gauchos scored two goals in the final eight minutes - a goal from Lizzie Rouleau and a five-meter penalty shot from Elle Quane - but the Anteaters added two more to their total as well. When the final buzzer sounded, Irvine had secured the victory and inaugural Big West title by way of a 13-9 score

The game marked the last collegiate contest for Gaucho seniors Amanda Tipton and Gillian Morgan, who each had strong showings in this weekend's tournament.

Tipton led the team with 6 goals during the three-day tournament and finishes her career ranked 11th all-time on the UCSB career scoring list. Morgan scored five goals during the tournament bringing her count to 83 this season - a new UCSB single season record. She finishes her four years with 205 career goals, which ranks second all-time in the Gaucho history books.

No. 10 UC Irvine 13, No. 17 UC Santa Barbara 9

        1    2    3    4    Final
UCSB    1    3    3    2    9
UCI     3    3    5    2    13

UCSB Goals: Claire Buchanan 2, Amanda Tipton 1, Cailee Kilroy 1, Jillian Waldron 1, Gillian Morgan 1, Alisha Khan 1, Lizzie Rouleau 1, Elle Quane 1.
UCSB Saves: Chelsea Carrillo 5.

UCI Goals: Cortney Collyer 3, Kat Plummer 3 Erin Kiene 2, Sarah Frost 2, Caitlin Haskell 1, Gianna Rossi 1, Julia Fancher 1.
UCI Saves: Morgan Vickers 5.

- UCSBgauchos.com -