The No. 16 UC Santa Barbara women’s water polo team got big offensive performances out of Sarah Owens and Caitlyn Snyder in Saturday’s 2022 Big West opener at Campus Pool, but it wasn’t enough to slow down No. 6 UC Irvine in a 16-8 defeat.
The Anteaters (13-4, 1-0) started strong with two goals in the first two minutes. Both came from Tara Prentice, who went on to lead all players for the day with five.
At the 4:49 mark of the first, redshirt junior utility Caitlyn Snyder got the Gauchos (10-8, 0-1) on the board as she slipped one past the UCI defense. The Anteaters would score the next three goals though to take a 5-1 lead.
With 1:15 to go in the first, redshirt junior attacker Sarah Owens put away her first of three goals on the day to make it 5-2. However, UCI’s defense continued to clamp down and the visitors scored another three unanswered.
The Gauchos would close the half with some timely momentum. Snyder scored again with 2:04 to go, and a minute later, redshirt freshman attacker Nina Munson got on the scoresheet to cut the lead to 8-4.
UCSB continued playing hard out of halftime to keep within striking distance. An Anteater miss led to a long pass over the top to Snyder, who calmly slotted a shot into the left side of the net to make it 9-5. She again cut the lead to four goals with her fourth of the day several minutes later.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the comeback effort was cut short as UCI scored the next four goals to take a 14-6 lead.
Owens scored twice more for UCSB in the fourth quarter. She also finished with a team-high three steals. Freshman goalkeeper Taylor McEvilly played every minute at goalkeeper, finishing with three saves.
Big West play will continue next Friday, Mar. 11 when the Gauchos travel to face CSUN at 12:00 p.m.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.