No. 16 UCSB Returns Home to Host No. 6 UC Irvine in Big West Opener

• The Schedule
at UCSB Campus Pool in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Saturday, Mar. 5 at 12:00 pm
No. 16 UCSB (10-7) vs. No. 6 UC Irvine (12-4)
Live Stats Video

• Gauchos Take One at Barbara Kalbus Invitational
In its four-game trip to Irvine for the Barbara Kalbus Invitational, the No. 16 UCSB women’s water polo team took one out of four games. The Gauchos opened with a 13-9 defeat against tournament host No. 6 UC Irvine before opening day two with an 11-10 win over No. 21 San Diego State. Later that day, they would fall to No. 10 Arizona State before closing the weekend out Sunday in an 11-10 overtime loss to No. 13 UC San Diego.

• Big West Opener
For the first time since the season-opening UCSB Winter Invite, the Gauchos will be playing at home. They will face The No. 6 Anteaters for the second time in eight days at 12:00 pm at Campus Pool. UCSB has dropped three in a row to UCI, but the last time the two teams faced each other in Santa Barbara a little less than three years ago, the Gauchos won 6-5.

In their meeting last Friday, UCSB was led by Caitlyn Snyder’s three goals and Nina Munson’s two. However, the Anteaters would end the opening period on a 4-1 run en route to a 13-9 victory.

• Snyder Leading The Offense
Utility Caitlyn Snyder has been one of the program’s top producers for the past few years, and that hasn’t changed during her redshirt junior year. The Fresno, Calif. native is averaging 1.8 goals and 2.2 assists per game, contributing to a team-leading 68 goals in total. She also paces the Gauchos in drawn exclusions (23) and field blocks (8), owns an efficient .443 shooting percentage, and is second on the team with 17 steals.

• Leigh Lighting It Up
Redshirt freshman attacker Leigh Lyter is the Gauchos’ leading goalscorer with 36 this year. She also leads her squad with 21 steals and is second with 19 drawn exclusions. The former Mira Costa High School standout helped give the Gauchos their first win over a top-20 team this season, sending in an incredible buzzer-beating game-winner from near the middle of the pool to knock off then-No. 19 Princeton 15-14.

• Defending The Cage
Goalkeepers Madison Button, Taylor McEvilly and Casey Coppock have split time in the cage this year. Button (6-2) has tallied 38 saves, while McEvilly (3-4) has registered 36. McEvilly also has two assists and 12 steals, while Button has four steals. Freshman Casey Coppock (1-1) has appeared in four games over the past three weeks and has 14 saves on a .412 save percentage.

• Offensive Punch
After Snyder and Lyter, UCSB has six other goalscorers who have reached double-figures through 17 games. Redshirt freshman attacker Nina Munson is third on the team with 28 goals, leads the team with six three-goal outings, and is third with 15 assists. Freshman utility Annie Kuester comes in fourth with 23 goals on a team-leading .639 shooting percentage. Redshirt junior attacker Sarah Owens has tallied 21 goals and 10 assists. Freshman center Imani Clemons has 13 goals and freshman utility Cami Mras has 11.

2022 UC Santa Barbara Stats

• Strong Start
UCSB opened the year with a 4-1 record for the third time under head coach Serela Kay. The last time the Gauchos started this way in 2019, they finished with an overall record of 22-8.

• Crunch Time
The Gauchos have averaged a +5.3 margin of victory in their nine wins. They have been excellent in close games, boasting a 5-1 mark in games decided by one goal. From Jan. 22-23, they won three straight games by one goal, all of which capped off a memorable fourth quarter comeback. Against Wagner, they trailed 14-13 with 4:25 left before scoring thre straight goals. Later in the day, they came back from a three-goal third quarter deficit against Princeton before Lyter’s epic game-winner put them on top 15-14. The following day, UCSB won its third straight in miraculous fashion, overcoming a 12-9 Brown lead over the final 1:38 of regulation before taking a 14-13 overtime win.

• 2021 in Review
UCSB was only in action for a month in 2021 before the rest of its season was canceled, finishing with an overall 3-5 record. The Gauchos opened the year with a pair of one-goal wins at No. 17 San Diego State, the 99th and 100th career wins for head coach Serela Kay. Three weeks later, they came away with a 12-10 home win over No. 11 UC Davis in their Big West opener. Amanda Legaspi ended the year atop the UCSB stat sheet with 14 goals and Caitlyn Snyder (9 goals, 6 assists) finished second on the team with 15 points.

• The Lineup
Back in the lineup for her fourth year with the team is perennial producer Caitlyn Snyder. Goalkeeper Madison Button also returns after starting in every game of 2021, when she averaged 8.8 saves per game. Nina Munson, Sarah Owens, Leigh Lyter and Claire Kelly are also among the team’s returners. The roster also welcomes 12 true freshmen. Casey Coppock and Taylor McEvilly join the goalkeeper crew; Juju Amaral, Aidan Flynn, Mackie Whitehead, Emily Ferguson and Mackenzie Murphy are on the attacking unit along with center Imani Clemons; Mel Damato and Ken Corlett bolster the defense; and Cami Mras and Annie Kuester are listed as utilities.

• 111 Wins and Counting
The 2022 season marks the eighth at the helm for Serela Kay, the Gauchos’ all-time winningest coach. Kay owns a 111-85 (.566) record since joining the team in June of 2014.

Under Kay’s leadership, five Gauchos have earned All-American status for a total of seven selections, and 13 Gauchos have earned a total of 21 All-Big West selections. In 2016, she was named the Big West Coach of the Year, becoming the first head coach in program history to be named conference coach of the year. Following that season, the program had multiple All-Americans for the first time since 1999, as the Gauchos clinched their first ever NCAA Tournament berth and earned their first ever Big West Championship and NCAA Tournament wins.

• The 2022 Slate
The Gauchos’ 2022 schedule includes a home tournament, two away tournaments, and three other non-conference games on top of their six-game Big West Conference slate. Following the UCSB Winter Invite, they will head inland to face Biola and Redlands on Jan. 28. Cal Baptist will host the Gauchos on Jan. 29.

The month of February will see UCSB close out its non-conference schedule at UCSD’s Triton Invite (Feb. 12-13) and UC Irvine’s Barbara Kalbus Invitational (Feb. 25-27). The Gauchos begin conference play with a Saturday home meeting against UCI on Mar. 5. Senior Day will welcome UC San Diego (Apr. 9) to town for their home finale, and the final regular season game will be played at UC Davis on Apr. 16.

From there, head coach Kay and her team travel to Hawaii for the Big West Tournament, taking place from April 21-23, as the Gauchos will battle for their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2016. A successful trip to Honolulu would. send UCSB to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the NCAA Tournament from May 6-8.

• Collegiate Water Polo National Rankings
1 Stanford
2 UCLA
3 USC
4 Cal
5 Hawaii
6 UC Irvine
7 Michigan
8 Fresno St.
9 Long Beach St.
10-T UC Davis
10-T Arizona St.
12 San Jose St.
13 UC San Diego
14 Indiana
15 Wagner
16 UC Santa Barbara
17 Pacific
18 Loyola Marymount
19 Princeton
20 Harvard
21 San Diego St.
22 Long Island
23 Brown
24 Marist
25-T CSUN
25-T Bucknell

Going Digital
Install the new UCSB Gaucho Gameday app on your smartphone for exclusive UCSB coverage all season long. Now available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

UCSB has moved to mobile ticketing earlier this season. For more information, click here.

.

Leave a Comment