SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For just the second time in 44 meetings and the first time since 1995, the UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team upset UCLA in its season opener, winning 9-8 at Campus Pool on Friday night.
"It's the beginning of season, so we talk about going out and playing our game. That's what we did tonight and it worked. There's so many more things that we can do well, and we'll need to brush up – but I'm proud of the team. It was a full team effort," said UCSB head coach Serela Kay after the game.
UCLA would go on a 4-0 run until Courtney Heydorff found the back of the net for her first career goal with 1:33 remaining in the quarter to reclaim some momentum for the Gauchos as they cut the Bruins lead after the first frame to 4-3.
That would carry over into the second quarter, in which the hosts took back the lead with four unanswered goals. Sarah Snyder scored twice, and Dani Kauahi and Kate Coski added goals to give the Gauchos a 7-4 lead that would last through the entirety of a scoreless third quarter.
The Bruins clawed back into the game in the fourth, coming all the way back to within one after Abbi Hill scored with 1:11 remaining in regulation, and it came down to a defensive stand on UCLA's final possession of the game, in which the Gauchos valiantly defended their lead and kept the Bruins from finding an opening that would have sent the game to overtime.
"Whenever it comes down to one goal at the end of the game, obviously the other team wants to send it to overtime, but to stand strong and have every single player in the pool [zone in on] defense and be thinking the same thing, shutting it down, and having a great goalie behind you, that's what it takes. It was a great moment," said Sarah Snyder after the game.
"It had a lot to do with our team defense. There were so many blocks from others that saved me and made it so much easier to get through that game," added Kenzi Snyder.
The win was UCSB's first over the Bruins since February 17, 1995 when the Gauchos defeated UCLA 8-7.
The 2020 UCSB Winter Invitational rolls on as the Gauchos take on both Iona and fourth-ranked Cal at 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., respectively, with both games taking place at Campus Pool. Live stats for both games are available on the UCSB women's water polo schedule page.