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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 4:35 pm | Mostly Cloudy 55º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
Water Polo

UCSB Reaches Big West Women’s Water Polo Final on a Golden Goal

Samantha Murphy delivered the golden goal to send No. 9 UCSB to Sunday's Big West Women's Water Polo Championship game, as the Gauchos upset No. 7 UC Irvine in a 7-6 sudden death overtime marathon at Campus Pool on Saturday. 

"We knew were going against a contender today," UCSB head coach Serela Kay said about UC Irvine which has won five of the seven Big West Championships. "Across the board, we had a great team effort with this win."

The Gauchos will play fourth seeded Hawai'i in Sunday's championship game at 2 p.m. at Campus Pool.

A steal by freshman Sarah Kreiser started a UCSB counter attack that led to the winning goal. Bryn Hudson took the ball at the wing and pump faked before dishing off to Murphy who roped in the game-winning shot into the back of the net.

"I'm so excited to be playing in the championship game," Murphy said. "It's been our goal this season to get to the championship game and now it's a reality. It's a really great feeling."

Murphy scored her second hat trick of the Big West Tournament, while Lauren Martin, Camila Schafer, Jenna Solberg, and Brenna Thomas each chipped in one goal apiece to the winning effort.

A tough defensive effort by UCSB was led with Mackenzie Brokaw's 11 saves. The senior really stepped up her game in the third quarter when she notched five blocks to help UCSB to a 5-2 edge, the largest lead for any team.

While UCSB was able to limit UC Irvine for 16 minutes, the Anteaters roared back into contention in the fourth quarter with two goals in the second minute of action.

Bryn Hudson found Martin inside for a sweep shot to keep UCI at bay with a 6-4 edge, but the Anteaters' Emily Carlson completed her hat trick with two more goals in the final 3:02 to force overtime.

With neither team able to find the back of the cage in the initial extra periods, the game soon progressed to a rare eighth period of play – unchartered territory for many teams. But despite already putting in nine extra minutes of water polo, the Gauchos were prepared, as they already played in a similar scenario with UC Davis earlier this season.

"After the fourth quarter ended, we all said that we've been here before," Murphy said after the game. "Overtime is something that we have prepared for in training and we're physically conditioned for it and mentally locked in when it comes down to it."

The victory ends the Gauchos' six-game losing to the Anteaters, as they picked up their first win against UCI since 2010.

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