Women’s water polo played one of their most important games against one of their biggest rivals this week, as CSU Long Beach, a Big West opponent, visited the Anteater Aquatics Complex on UCI’s Senior Night. It was only fitting that this year’s seniors send off their regular season with a huge 11-8 win against the rival 49ers locking them into a third place finish, moving into the Big West Conference Tournament.
Though before they could think about a playoff berth, the ‘Eaters had to face the No. 17 49ers, which never proves an easy task. UCI managed to get things started in their favor however, when freshman Isabel Rack scored her first of four on a 5m penalty shot less than 50 seconds into the game. However, it was not long before the powerplay began to cause problems for the ‘Eaters as Long Beach capitalized on their first powerplay of the game. Long Beach had five points come by way of power play, on 10 opportunities, while UCI only connected on three of seven. Rack would again find the net, regaining UCI’s one point lead. IT proved to be a short lived lead as three more power play goals would come the 49ers’ way. At the end of the first quarter, UCI trailed 4-2.
The second saw a much more focused and defensively dominant UCI, as senior goalkeeper Riley Shaw and the rest of the ‘Eaters held Long Beach to only the four points they scored in the first, allowing no goals in the second. The quarter saw many mid-pool turnovers, but early on Rack found her third goal with 6:06 left to play, bringing the Anteaters within a point. It looked like UCI, however, might have gone into the second half trailing as the clock ticked past the final minute, when senior Allie Loomis capitalized right as a penalty was called against the 49ers, catapulting the ball past the Long Beach defense, and tying the game at four.
Returning for the second half, Long Beach quickly retook the lead Loomis had robbed them of just 37 seconds into the quarter. The ‘Eaters, quick to block any momentum the 49ers were gathering, had answer in the form of senior Cara Borkovec who found the back of the net less than 30 seconds later. UCI coming up big with a defensive stop, transitioned to a goal as goalie Jenna Phreaner led freshman Kayleigh Schultz on a cross pool pass that put Kayleigh up alone against the CSULB goalie who she beat to give UCI the lead, 6-5. After another tying goal from Long Beach, UCI established their first two goal lead when freshman Tara Prentice scored on the powerplay, and then 24 seconds later freshman Megan Falcon scored as well, putting UCI up 8-6. Allie Loomis added another goal, her second on the night, before the period ended.
The final quarter saw a frustrated 49ers offense, as UCI shut down all but one of their attempts to make up a two-goal deficit. Before Long Beach could manage their one goal, the ‘Eaters put up two more of their own, the first a Natalie Seidemann beauty on a pass from Isabel Rack. Rack also scored UCI’s final goal and her fourth of the game. Long Beach went on to get their only point of the quarter and the final of the game, but it was too little, too late, as
UCI took the victory over Long Beach 11-8. UCI out shot the 49ers 30-23 en route to their black and blue rivalry win.
The ‘Eaters move onto the Big West Conference Tournament, beginning Friday April 27, and concluding on the 29th.
“This was a good win, and we have the Big West tournament next week; we are excited to bring the energy,” said Allie Loomis, reflecting on the night and her time as an Anteater, and already looking ahead to the Conference tournament.