The UC Irvine women’s water polo team’s championship hopes came to an abrupt end on Saturday as the ‘Eaters fell to host UC Santa Barbara in a game that would go the distance. The matchup was resolved after eight periods of grueling play where the Gauchos were able to find the golden goal and halt the ‘Eaters’ journey for NCAA tournament play. On the following day the ‘Eaters participated in a consolation game against rival Long Beach where they were able to snag third place at the conference tournament.
UC Santa Barbara
Saturday’s marathon of the game pinned the No. 7 favored ‘Eaters against the No. 9 ranked Gauchos, who were fresh off a victory against UC Davis. The Gauchos were able to withstand the ‘Eaters’ comeback attempt late in the game to earn their first victory over UCI since 2010.
Senior Emily Carlson was key in the ‘Eaters’ late rally as she led UCI with a hat-trick. Fellow senior Hanna Lancaster, junior Destene Albers, and sophomore Mary Brooks all chipped in with a goal apiece. After being held scoreless for the second and third quarters of the game and being down 5-2, the ‘Eaters surmounted the deficit to score four goals in the fourth period to force overtime against the Gauchos.
Carlson netted in the first score in the opening minute of the game to give the ‘Eaters an early advantage. The Gauchos fired back with two goals of their own to grab the lead but Lancaster would answer back and tie it at 2-2 at the end of the first.
The Gauchos’ defensive intensity stymied the ‘Eaters as they were able to go both the second and third quarter without conceding a goal. UCSB senior goalkeeper Mackenzie Brokaw had a strong outing in between the pipes notching 11 saves with five of those coming in the third. The Gauchos were able to grab a three goal lead heading into the last quarter of regulation with the ‘Eaters playing to continue their season. The ‘Eaters would bury four goals in the fourth quarter to tie the game at six goals apiece heading into overtime play. It took four additional periods of play to find the game winner as Gaucho senior Samantha Murphy scored the sudden death goal to advance her team into the Big West finals against Hawai’i.
Long Beach State
The ‘Eaters were in store for another game that went beyond regulation as they were able to defeat Long Beach State, 7-6.
Carlson continued her hot shooting streak netting in two against the 49ers alongside a brace from Brooks.
The ‘Eaters were victim to another early deficit as the 49ers jumped to a two goal lead, keeping the ‘Eaters scoreless. The second period saw the ‘Eaters tie the game with two consecutive goals to open the quarter but they were unable to close out the first half and allow the 49ers to gain the 4-2 lead at the half. After cutting the lead to one in the third period, the ‘Eaters tied the game in the fourth and shutout the 49ers’ offense. Goalkeeper Annika Nelson garnered nine saves in the contest and came up clutch in the fourth blocking a potential game winning power play by Long Beach. After both teams scored in the first period of overtime, Carlson would seal the game for the ’Eaters scoring with 27 seconds left to take the 7-6 lead and earn third place in the conference tournament.