Gauchos Open Big West Play at Home Saturday Against No. 8 UC Irvine

Sarah Owens (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Sarah Owens (Photo by Jeff Liang)

The Schedule
Saturday, Mar. 9, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.
No. 8 UC Irvine (12-5) at No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (15-5)
at Campus Pool in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Anteaters: 12-25
Live Stats
| Video

Gauchos Dominate at Claremont Convergence
No. 10 UC Santa Barbara went a perfect 2-0 at the Claremont Convergence last Saturday, downing Azusa Pacific, 15-6 and Pomona-Pitzer, 12-9. Sarah Snyder remained UCSB's top offensive threat, as she put away nine goals on just 11 shot attempts. The junior scored five times against APU and four times in the win over the Sagehens. After starting its fourth different winning streak this season, UCSB has now won four of its last five games.

Anteater Rematch in Big West Opener
The Gauchos begin Big West play this Saturday with a 15-5 overall record. Their .750 winning percentage is currently the second-highest in the conference, behind only No. 5 Hawaii (11-2). Two of UCSB's five losses this season have come at the hands of this Saturday's opponent in No. 8 UC Irvine (12-5). The Gauchos were bested by the Anteaters two times in the month of February, falling 11-7 at the Triton Invitational on Feb. 9 and 11-9 at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational just 15 days later. Both times, UCSB got out to a fast start, averaging 3.5 first quarter goals through both meetings. However, the Gauchos have had trouble sustaining their early offense against Irvine, as they were outscored 18-9 over the final three periods. The Anteaters open conference play riding a five-game winning streak.

Offensive Leaders
Junior utility Sarah Snyder has been UCSB's most consistent offensive player this season, totaling team-highs in goals (47), points (50), shooting percentage (.595), and drawn exclusions (24). She is the only Gaucho to be named Big West Player of the Week this year, having earned the honor following the first weekend of the season. Right behind her on the statsheet is senior utility Kate Pipkin with 42 points. Pipkin's 25 goals are the third-most on the team, while her 17 assists rank second behind senior Sarah Kreiser's 18. Coming in third in points is attacker Amanda Legaspi, who has totaled 41 points. The freshman out of La Verne, Calif. has been an offensive force, sitting right behind Snyder for team-highs in goals (33), shooting percentage (.524) and drawn exclusions (17). She is the only other Gaucho to have crossed the 30-goal mark so far this season.

Defensive Leaders
Goalkeepers Becca Buck and Kenzi Snyder have split time at goalkeeper for the second straight year, and have done a solid job defending the cage, holding opposing teams to seven goals or fewer in 15 of 20 games, including one shutout. Snyder has tallied 95 saves, posting a 10-5 record. Buck meanwhile has a perfect 5-0 mark thus far and 72 saves.

Along with being the Gauchos' top sprinter, attacker Mollie Simmons has also been active on defense, leading the Gauchos with 23 steals to this point. Seniors Sarah Kreiser (18) and Kate Pipkin (16) come in second and third on the team in steals. Kreiser also leads the team with 13 field blocks, three more than any other Gaucho.

Gauchos Historic Start
UCSB has racked up 15 wins through its first 20 games, something the program has not done since at least 1996. That can be attributed to a hot start out of the gates which saw the Gauchos post a 9-1 record through their first 10 games. Santa Barbara's dominant opening weekend resulted in its first 4-0 start since 2013. There have been only four other times in the last 24 years that UCSB has started with a 4-0 record.

Ranked Opposition
The reason for Santa Barbara's historic rate of winning is the fact that the Gauchos have risen to the challenge against top-ranked teams this year. The Gauchos are currently 11-5 against ranked opponents and 3-4 against teams which entered the matchup with a higher ranking. So far, the Gauchos have earned "upset" wins against Indiana, Wagner, and Arizona State.

National Rankings
After starting the year with a No. 17 preseason ranking in the CWPA national polls, UCSB jumped to No. 10 through just one week of play, the second-largest jump of any team in the country. The Gauchos remain at No. 10 entering Big West play, but have seen as high as a No. 7 ranking this season, their highest since May of 2016.

Six Straight
The Gauchos opened the month of February by winning its first six games, awarding them their first six-game win streak since the start of the 2013 season. It was just the sixth time UCSB went on a run of six straight wins since 1996.

We're Shooting First
UCSB has been nearly unbeatable in sprints this year, thanks in large part to sophomore Mollie Simmons. The former Orange Lutheran High School standout has gone won 65 sprints this year, while losing just five.

No-Goal Zone
UCSB's 14-0 shutout win over Iona on Feb. 3 was the Gauchos' first shutout of the season and their third in the last two years. Prior to 2018, UCSB hadn't recorded a shutout victory since Feb. 15, 2003 in a 10-0 win over George Washington.

Snyder Named First Big West Player of the Week
Following a standout opening weekend performance in which she scored at least two goals in all five appearances, junior utility Sarah Snyder was named the first Big West Player of the Week of the 2019 season in late January. The Gauchos' leading scorer from last year, Snyder picked up right where she left off, finishing with team-highs of 14 goals and nine drawn exclusions while leading the Gauchos to a 4-1 record at the UCSB Winter Invite. She put together back-to-back four-goal, one-assist efforts, helping UCSB to convincing wins over Indiana and Wagner, teams which held higher preseason rankings than the Gauchos. For the second straight year, a Gaucho kicked off the Big West PoW awards with a win following the Winter Invite, as Snyder followed in the footsteps of current teammate and senior captain Sarah Kreiser.

Trust The Process: Shannon Moran
We sat down before the start of the season with senior Shannon Moran to talk about her experiences with water polo, community service, and her role as a leader being one of the team's three co-captains in 2019. Read the feature story and watch the interview by clicking here.

2019 UCSB Women's Water Polo Statistics