The SBCC women’s water polo team opened its 2022 season with a pair of blowout wins on Friday at Cuesta’s Central Coast Invitational, defeating Merced 21-4 followed by a 19-2 win over Modesto.
After leading the team with 75 goals last season and being named SBART Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year, sophomore attacker Eden Tal wasted no time finding the back of the net, scoring four goals in each of the Vaqueros’ wins.
SBCC 21, Merced 4
Santa Barbara took a 3-0 lead through one quarter, as Tal scored her first two goals of the year and freshman Claire Daland notched her first of three goals on the day as a Vaquero. Tal put away two more in the second as did Jenna Olson, while Lauren Tuxill and Claire Daland also scored to send SBCC into halftime leading 9-2.
The Vaquero lead reached double-figures, 12-2, on an Alessia Gressi goal early in the third. SBCC’s lead later reached its peak, 21-3, when Gabrielle Muehring secured a second half hat trick with just over a minute remaining in the game.
Ella Prado led SBCC with three assists and four steals. Goalkeepers Ava Donleavy and Chloe McKay split time in the cage, tallying three and one save, respectively.
SBCC 19, Modesto 2
Game two started similarly, as Tal scored the first two goals of the game and SBCC never looked back.
Olson capped the first quarter with her second goal to make it 8-1. She later scored the last goal of the day, putting SBCC up 19-2 and sealing her first hat trick of the season.
Six Vaqueros had multi-goal performances, as Natalie Mancinelli, Muehring, Emily Lopez and Gressi all scored twice. Mancinelli also had a team-high three assists.
The goalkeepers were a lot busier against Modesto, as Dunleavy went for seven saves and two assists and McKay had five saves and two steals.
The Vaqueros play two more games at the Central Coast Invitational on Saturday, starting with West Valley at 12:25 p.m. and then against Diablo Valley at 4:45 p.m.
Michael Jorgenson works in communications/media relations at Santa Barbara City College.