SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 19 UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team remained undefeated on the second day of the 2023 UCSB Winter Invite, shutting out UC Merced 22-0 before beating No. 14 Indiana 13-10.
The Gauchos improve to 4-0 with two shutouts and a good win over their first ranked opponent.
UCSB 22, UC Merced 0
Goalscorers: Lyter (3), Bernhoit (3), Mras (3), Amaral (2), Munson (2), Palmer (2), Mackay, Snyder, Halvorson, Owens, Cantu, Clemons, Flynn
Saves: Taylor McEvilly (6)
With the sun barely starting to rise and temperatures as low as 45 degrees, UCSB began the day with a 22-0 early morning win over UC Merced (0-4). It was the second straight day that the Gauchos started things with a dominant shutout.
UCSB scored at will from the outset, getting six goals on its first six possessions from five different goalscorers, including a pair of scores by Juju Amaral. Nine more second quarter goals made it 17-0 at the half, and the Gauchos capped their scoring with a five-goal third.
Leigh Lyter – UCSB's co-leading goalscorer from last season – recorded her first hat trick of the young season, as did second-year Gaucho Cami Mras. Freshman Mia Bernhoit scored three times as well, giving her five over a two-game span.
Goalkeeper Taylor McEvilly played the whole game, tallying six saves.
Facing their first ranked opponent of the weekend, UCSB rose to the task and looked sharp throughout. Carrying their momentum from three straight blowout wins, the Gauchos got started quick, as Caitlyn Snyder drew an exclusion, gave it up and got it right back for a goal just 17 seconds in.
The Hoosiers (1-2) struck back with two quick goals and took a 4-2 lead in a fast-paced opening period. However, the Gauchos would put their stamp on the game with aggressive offensive play. Penalty goals from Sarah Owens and Juju Amaral were followed by two straight second quarter goals by Lyter to put UCSB ahead 5-4. Snyder then scored to make it 6-4, capping a 4-0 Gaucho run.
Santa Barbara's strong response continued in the third, ending the quarter leading 11-6. With Indiana hoping to make a final push in the fourth, the Gauchos got a pair of dagger goals, first on another breakaway for Snyder on a long feed by freshman goalkeeper Madison Walker, and next on a shot clock buzzer-beater by Lyter which barely left her hand in time. Those were the fourth goals of the game for both Gauchos.
Walker finished with seven saves in her first wire-to-wire start.
The Gauchos close out the 2023 UCSB Winter Invite tomorrow with games against Ottawa at 1:00 p.m. and a marquee matchup with No. 3-T UCLA at 4:00 p.m.