Gauchos Back In The Pool Facing Cal St. Monterey Bay, No. 4 Cal

Kelly Murphy (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Kelly Murphy (Photo by Jeff Liang)

The Schedule
Monday Mar. 25, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.
Cal St. Monterey Bay (7-10) vs. No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (16-5)
at CSUMB Aquatic Center (Otter Tank) in Seaside, Calif.

Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.
No. 4 Cal vs. No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (16-5)
at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, Calif.

Gauchos Rally, Stun Anteaters in Big West Opener
No. 9 UC Santa Barbara took down No. 10 UC Irvine for the first time in three tries in both teams' Big West opener on Mar. 9 in Santa Barbara, as the Gauchos erased a 3-0 first half deficit to defeat the Anteaters, 6-5. Junior goalkeeper Kenzi Snyder had one of her best performances to date, stifling 13 shots to keep UCSB in the game en route to winning her first career Big West Player of the Week award. Kate Pipkin and Sarah Snyder led the Gaucho offense with two goals each.

Offensive Leaders
Junior utility Sarah Snyder has been UCSB's most consistent offensive player this season, totaling team-highs in goals (49), points (52), shooting percentage (.590), and drawn exclusions (25). She is one of two Gauchos 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 45 points. Pipkin's 27 goals are the third-most on the team, while her 18 assists are tied for first with senior Sarah Kreiser. Also carrying a significant share of offensive responsibilities 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 (.516) 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 16 of 21 games, including one shutout. Snyder has tallied 108 saves, posting an 11-5 record. She has recorded a season-high 13 saves twice, including her outstanding performance in the win over UCI which resulted in her first Big West Player of the Week honor. 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 24 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 16 wins through its first 21 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 12-5 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. 9 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 69 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.