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Gauchos Fly Through Day 1 of 2023 UCSB Winter Invite

Caitlyn Snyder (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Caitlyn Snyder (Photo by Jeff Liang)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 19 UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team started its season off with a pair of dominant wins hosting the 2023 UCSB Winter Invite on Friday, shutting out Cal State Monterey Bay 14-0 before downing Concordia 15-5 to close out the day.

The Gauchos (2-0) improve to 8-1 in home season openers under head coach Serela Kay and are now 13-5 in Winter Invite games since 2019.

UCSB 14, Cal St. Monterey Bay 0
Goalscorers: Caitlyn Snyder (5), Leigh Lyter (2), Nina Munson (2), Annie Kuester (2), Drew Halvorson, Sarah Owens, Imani Clemons
Saves: Madison Walker (5), Taylor McEvilly (2)

2022 All-American Caitlyn Snyder got things started with a quick steal and score to open her super senior season, finding the back of the net less than a minute in against the Otters. She would finish the first quarter of the year with three goals as UCSB led 5-0 through one.

The Gauchos stifled the Otters (0-2) throughout the match, rarely giving them a chance to go for goal. Goalkeepers Taylor McEvilly (2 saves) and Madison Walker (5) were tested seven times, stopping every effort and tallying one steal each.

Snyder finished with five goals, all of which came in the first half. Leigh Lyter, Nina Munson and Annie Kuester all scored twice.

It was the first shutout victory for the Gauchos since 2018 and the fourth in the Kay era (since 2015).

UCSB 15, Concordia 5
Goalscorers: Caitlyn Snyder (5), Juju Amaral (3), Mia Bernhoit (2), Leigh Lyter, Sarah Owens, Cami Mras, Delaney Palmer, Annie Kuester
Saves: Madison Walker (2), Taylor McEvilly (1)

In the final game of the day, UCSB again struck first early with Nina Munson drawing a five-meter penalty and Juju Amaral putting it away less than two minutes in. The Golden Eagles (1-1) would equalize several minutes later, but it was all Gauchos from there.

Snyder took over, waltzing through the defense at will and scoring all five of her goals in the first half for the second straight game. On the other end of the pool, the Gauchos put on another display of clean, high pressure defense as they reeled off nine unanswered goals into the third quarter.

Amaral ended up with a hat trick and freshman Mia Bernhoit drew a series of ecstatic cheers from her bench with her first two collegiate goals late in the game.

Santa Barbara's day gets going real early tomorrow with a 7:00 a.m. matchup against UC Merced. The Gauchos also face No. 14 Indiana to close out day two of the Winter Invite at 1:15 p.m.