No. 11 UCSB Travels to Face No. 22 CSUN Saturday at Noon

Amelia Meckelborg (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Amelia Meckelborg (Photo by Tony Mastres)

The Schedule
Saturday, Apr. 6, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.
No. 22 CSUN (13-15, 0-3) vs. No. 11 UC Santa Barbara (18-6, 1-1)
at Matador Pool in Northridge, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Matadors: 18-18

Gaucho Win Streak Ends at UC Davis
No. 11 UC Santa Barbara had a five-game winning streak conclude in its final game of March, as the Gauchos were ousted down the stretch by No. 9 UC Davis in a closely fought 11-10 defeat. After a hot start saw UCSB take a 5-1 lead through one period, the Aggies fought their way back into the game, ending things on a 4-1 run to hand the Gauchos their only loss of the month. Junior Sarah Snyder led UCSB with four goals, while her sister freshman Caitlyn Snyder scored twice.

Big West: The Home Stretch
At 18-6 overall and 1-1 in league play, the Gauchos head into their third conference matchup at No. 22 CSUN with the most total wins of any Big West team and the second-highest overall winning percentage (.750). The Gauchos defeated No. 8 UC Irvine in their Big West opener on Mar. 9 by a final score of 6-5, starting conference play with a win for the first time since 2015. A win over the Matadors this Saturday could go a long way in helping UCSB secure a top-two seed in the conference, which would it a first round bye in the Big West Tournament (Apr. 26-28). The Matadors (13-15, 0-3) are the only winless team left in conference play, entering this Saturday's noon meeting with the Gauchos having lost three straight Big West outings by an average of eight goals per game. UCSB and CSUN have equaled each other with 18 wins in 36 all-time meetings.

On The Attack
It's been a year to remember for junior utility Sarah Snyder, who with three games left in the regular season ranks third in the Big West with 56 goals, averaging more than 2.3 per game. Snyder is the only Gaucho in the last three years to cross the 50-goal mark. Based on her current pace, she could become the first Gaucho to score 65 goals since Samantha Murphy (78) in 2013. The Fresno, Calif. native also leads UCSB in points (61), shooting percentage (.589), and drawn exclusions (27) and is one of two Gauchos this season to have been named Big West Player of the Week.

Trailing Snyder closely on the statsheet is senior utility Kate Pipkin with 57 points. Pipkin's 34 goals are the third-most on the team, while her 23 assists are tied with fellow senior Sarah Kreiser for the fifth-highest total in the Big West. Meanwhile, Kreiser is the third Gaucho to have hit the 50-point mark this season. She has put away 27 goals in 2019, good for the second-highest goal total of her career.

Freshmen Making Waves
Right behind the veterans on the statsheet are a pair of freshmen standouts in attacker Amanda Legaspi and utility Caitlyn Snyder. Legaspi's tremendous start out of the gates saw her put away nine goals through her first three career games. That included a six-goal outburst in a season-opening win over California Baptist which remains a Gaucho season-high. Her seven hat tricks are second only to Sarah Snyder (9), as are her 38 goals, .521 shooting percentage and 22 drawn exclusions.

As the season has worn on, Caitlyn Snyder has only continued to improve. She has seven multi-goal efforts in her last 12 appearances, after doing so zero times through her first 12 career outings. She is coming off easily the most productive week of her career, as she put up eight goals over three games including a career-best four-goal outburst in last Monday's win over Cal State Monterey Bay. Her 46 points trail Legaspi by just one, while her 23 assists are also tied for fifth-most in the conference.

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 17 of 24 games, including one shutout. They are also allowing just 5.58 goals per game to opponents, easily the lowest average in the Big West. Snyder has tallied 124 saves, tied for third in the conference, and owns a 12-5 record. She has recorded a season-high 13 saves twice, including her outstanding performance in Mar. 9's win over UCI which resulted in her first Big West Player of the Week honor. Buck meanwhile has a perfect 6-0 mark thus far and 86 saves. Her 4.21 goals against average places her in the top-five of the Big West.

Along with being the Gauchos' top sprinter, attacker Mollie Simmons has also been active on defense, leading the Gauchos with 28 steals to this point. Senior Sarah Kreiser (26) comes in second on the team in steals. Sarah Kreiser leads UCSB with 14 field blocks this season, three more than any other Gaucho.

Gauchos Historic Regular Season
UCSB has racked up 18 wins through its first 24 games, something the program has not done since at least 1996. The program has maxed out at 20 wins on three occasions since then, a mark it could potentially surpass this season. The historic rate of winning 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
Another reason for Santa Barbara's high win rate is the fact that the Gauchos have risen to the challenge against top-ranked teams this year. The Gauchos are currently 12-6 against ranked opponents and 4-4 against teams which entered the matchup with a higher ranking. So far, the Gauchos have earned "upset" wins against Indiana, Wagner, Arizona State and UC Irvine.

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 currently stand at No. 11, the third-highest ranking among Big West teams. They 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 80 sprints this year, while losing just six.

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.

Big West Players 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.

After tying a season-high with 13 saves in a thrilling 6-5 Big West opening win over No. 10 UC Irvine on Mar. 9, junior goalkeeper Kenzi Snyder was named the Big West Player of the Week for the first time in her career. The Santa Ana, Calif. native was nearly unbeatable down the stretch, stopping a penalty in the fourth quarter along with stifling a handful of shots from point blank range. Her efforts helped UCSB erase a 3-0 first half deficit and close things on a 6-2 run to knock off the Anteaters for the first time in three tries this season.

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