The No. 7 Women’s Water Polo team at UCI lost to the Hawaii Rainbows 6-7 in the finals of the Big West tournament, robbing them of their chance at a guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament. Last year UCI was able to advance over Hawaii in the tournament finals. This was the ‘Eaters’ first loss in the whole month of April, ending their six game win-streak. Before the ‘Eaters took on the Rainbows in the finals, they faced the UCSB Gauchos in the semis.
The ‘Eaters walked over the Gauchos in their 5-2 victory. Junior utility Tara Prentice and sophomore utility Toni Shackelford each netted two goals en route to the semifinal victory. It was defense that dominated the day as the ‘Eaters’ netminder, sophomore Morgan Jones, had nine saves and only allowed two goals. UCSB was able to score first as they capitalized on a power play just 24 seconds into the second quarter. The ‘Eaters didn’t assure the win until the final quarter, when they scored three of their five goals. This win over the Gauchos brought the ‘Eater’s record in the Big West tournament to an impressive 22-3.
Playing very strong, UCI opened their final game scoring as Prentice found the back of the net with 4:56 to play in the first quarter. The Rainbows took charge of the game, responding with a goal of their own thirty seconds later, followed by two more unanswered goals. The first quarter ended with UCI trailing 3-1. The ‘Eaters showed their composure, however, responding with three unanswered goals of their own before the Rainbows could net one just before the close of the half. UCI was being frustrated offensively, as they had many opportunities but struggled to find success against the Hawaii defense. UCI outshot Hawaii 37-2. In the third it was all Hawaii, as UCI could not beat their defense. Going into the final quarter, UCI trailed 5-7. The ‘Eaters would manage one goal in the concluding quarter, but it would not be enough, losing the tournament final 6-7. The loss made the final record of the ‘Eaters an impressive 19-9 on the season.