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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 7:09 am | Fair 45º

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UCSB Claims 7th Place With Win Over San Diego State

Brokaw's 10 saves leads Gauchos to 8-2 victory

Ending the NCAA Championship weekend on a high note, No. 7 UCSB (19-14) won the seventh place game after cruising to an 8-2 win over No. 13 San Diego State (18-19).

A fortified defensive effort from the Gauchos frustrated the Aztecs who were shutout in three of the four quarters. In the cage, Mackenzie Brokaw had her best game of the weekend with 10 saves and a steal, as UCSB combined for eight steals and four field blocks as a team.

"Serela has always said that with defense, offense will come," team captain Lauren Martin said. "So when Mackenzie makes a block or makes some crazy save, it really creates momentum going into our offense, which could lead to a goal."

"Today definitely was a defensive effort," head coach Serela Kay said. "Being able to shut them out and go up 2-0 really set the tone for the rest of the game.

"The nice thing was were able to keep our heads in the game. I felt like we finally came down from the idea of playing under the bright lights this weekend brings and were able to find a rhythm and come into our own."

With its defense leading the way, UCSB saw three of its players score braces in the game with Martin, Taylor Shore, and Sophie Trabucco. Furthering the point that the game was the result of a team win, all eight of UCSB's goals came with an assist.

"The first two games this weekend were definitely rocky, but I was glad to finish really strong," Martin said. "At the beginning of the season, we knew that winning the Big West was our main goal and being able to compete here at the NCAA's has been amazing."

Aside from her team-high goal total, Martin also drew all four of the Gauchos' earned ejections.

It was a gritty battle in the first half, as the Gauchos clawed their way to a 2-0 halftime lead, scoring one goal in each period. With both teams putting up strong defensive efforts to open the game, it looked as though the game would go scoreless through the first eight minutes, but a key steal from Brenna Thomas would change all that.

The junior started the play by picking off an inside pass and quickly found Bryn Hudson charging down the right side of the pool. With the final seconds ticking away, Hudson dished it off to Shore who positioned herself in front of the cage for an easy goal and completed the counter attack at the final buzzer.

UCSB would add one more goal at the 5:31 mark in the second quarter on their first power play of the period, as Samantha Murphy took on the role of playmaker and found Trabucco for the inside look. Overall, Murphy led the Gauchos with two assists.

In the third quarter, the Aztec offense made its breakthrough and netted a goal just 42 seconds into the period. But the Gauchos were quick to respond, as Murphy setup Hudson for a rightwing goal on the ensuing possession, maintaining a two-goal Gaucho lead.

The Aztecs were able to cut the deficit to one again after an outlet pass led to a Alyssa Diacono goal, but again the Gauchos answered back with Shore feeding Martin on an entry pass. With the center in strong position on the inside, Shore dropped a pass into the lap of Martin who scorched a bullet past the goalie from three meters out.

With a that emphatic shot, Martin -- who was named Second Team All-Tournament -- triggered a 5-0 Gaucho run that would end the game.

"Lauren is a huge piece of our puzzle," Kay said. "She's our center on the offensive end that created the momentum for us in the second half."

To close out the third, Shore found herself working inside and went on to tattoo SDSU's defense with another goal off a backhanded sweep shot, improving UCSB's lead to 5-2.

The Gauchos had another three-goal quarter in the fourth with Brokaw setting up Trabucco's counter attack goal with a perfectly placed outlet pass and Martin bullying her way through two defenders for a point blank shot.

And while fans were treated to highlight reel plays from UCSB's veterans, they also got a glimpse of things to come with Sarah Kreiser connecting with fellow freshman Ashley Riley on the game's final goal.

During the play, Kreiser tossed the ball inside to Riley who spun and tipped in the no-look, redirect shot, adding an exclamation mark on UCSB's dominant team performance.

The Gauchos finished their first ever trip to the NCAA Championships with a 1-2 record, while they completed a 3-0 season sweep of San Diego State with today's victory.

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