No. 17 UCSB battled Cal even through three quarters, but the sixth-ranked Golden Bears outscored the Gauchos, 3-1, in the final period for an 8-6 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation victory Sunday at the Recreation Center pool.

With the win, Cal improves to 15-8 overall and 6-5 in the MPSF, bouncing back from a 10-4 defeat Saturday at top-ranked UCLA. Despite a gritty performance, the Gauchos fell to a second Top-10 opponent in as many days and their record drops to 4-16 overall and 0-10 in MPSF play. UCSB lost to No. 7 Arizona State on Saturday.

Cal raced out to a 3-0 advantage in the first quarter after goals from Meghan Corso, Paige Lorenz and Katya Eadington. The later’s score came with just five seconds remaining in the opening period.

UCSB came roaring back in the second quarter, outscoring Cal 4-2 to pull within one at the half. Kathryn Nelson, a freshman from Cabrillo High in Lompoc, put the Gauchos on the board at the 7:36 mark when she slipped a ball past Golden Bears goalkeeper Heather Stuart. Senior Lindsay Knott followed with a goal of her own to bring the Gauchos to within one, 3-2, with 4:59 remaining in the half.

After Cal stopped the rally with a score from Grace Reynolds, sophomore Christie Clark scored two of her team-high three goals in a span of 24 seconds to knot the score at 4-4 with 3:28 left. The Golden Bears took the lead with under a minute remaining on a Stephanie Schnugg goal and took a 5-4 lead into intermission.

Both teams locked down defensively in a physical third quarter that featured five ejections. UCSB scored the only goal of the period when Knott blew the ball past Stuart to the far corner of the net with 1:25 left. The score was deadlocked at 5-5 entering the fourth.

Cal recaptured the lead again just over a minute into the quarter on a nice play from Darby Anderson. UCSB answered with another goal from Clark at the 6:28 mark that tied the game, 6-6, but it would be all Golden Bears from there. Molly Hayes gave the visitors a 7-6 advantage with a goal with 3:49 remaining and Corso put the finishing touches on the Cal victory with her second goal of the afternoon for the final margin with 1:33 left on the clock.

Stuart finished with nine saves for the Golden Bears, including two huge stops on offerings from Clark in the final three minutes. Senior Jenny Gonzales was equally impressive for the Gauchos in the net, also tallying nine saves to keep UCSB in the game.

The Gauchos have six days off before entertaining Pacific at noon April 13 at the Rec Cen pool.

Ryan Hall is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.