The UC Santa Barbara women’s water polo team (8-5) finished in sixth place at the Triton Invitational at UC San Diego, splitting its final pair of matches against Long Beach State and UC Irvine at Triton Pool on Sunday afternoon to wrap up a 2-2 weekend.

No. 9 UCSB 8, No. 12 Long Beach State 5

The Gauchos engaged in a thrilling battle with Long Beach State, coming from behind twice to tie the game and grabbing the lead with nine seconds left in the first half. Thye scored the Beach 3-1 the rest of the way to win their eighth game of the season.

First-quarter goals from junior central defender Amelia Meckelborg and senior utility Sarah Snyder erased an early 2-0 lead that the Beach had built up in the opening minutes of play.

In the second quarter, it was again Long Beach that went ahead by two. UCSB head coach Serela Kay called a timeout just inside of three minutes remaining in the half and the Gauchos rattled off three unanswered goals via junior attacher Mollie Simmons and Sarah Snyder, who scored two of them, including the go-ahead goal with nine seconds left in the second quarter.

The Gauchos kept extending their lead throughout the second half, going up 6-4 off a Sarah Snyder shot and responding to a Long Beach goal 25 seconds later thanks to sophomore attacker Dani Kauahi’s hit at the 3:31 mark, with the lead at 7-5 entering the final period.

UCSB freshman Claire Kelly scored with 5:13 remaining to give the Gauchos some breathing room and the defense held the Beach scoreless the rest of the way as UCSB advanced to the fifth place game.

No. 5 UC Irvine 10, No. 9 UCSB 4

A big second half propelled UC Irvine past UCSB to claim fifth place at the Triton Invitational.

The first four goals of the game followed a distinct pattern: Santa Barbara scored, and then Irvine scored shortly afterward.

Both Meckelborg and Simmons’ goals were met with replies from Irvine, but the Anteaters scored another at 2-2 to get the lead.

After that, the Gauchos tied the game back up at 3-3 on a goal from senior co-captain Kate Coski, but Irvine got the lead back at 4-3 with 2:52 left in the quarter.

Once again, sophomore attacker Amanda Legaspi made things level with just over a minute remaining, but the Anteaters scored the final goal of the first half to lead 5-4.

Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the second half was all Irvine, as the Anteaters outscored UCSB 5-0 to take fifth place at the Triton Invitational with a 10-4 win.

Next up for UCSB is the 2020 Barbara Kalbus Invitational hosted by UC Irvine.

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Barry Punzal, Noozhawk Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.