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Women's Water Polo

#1 SBCC Wins 4 Hosting Halloween Tourney, Win Streak Ends at 28 with Valiant Loss to D-I CSUN

Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography
Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography

GOLETA, CA – The Santa Barbara City College Women's Water Polo team hosted the SBCC Halloween Tournament at Dos Pueblos High School this weekend, going 4-1. Only top-25 ranked Division I Cal State Northridge could beat the Vaqueros, ending SBCC's best start in program history at 28 consecutive wins.

"I'm pretty proud of them," head coach Chuckie Roth said. "They rose to the occasion and showed a lot of resilience. We fought."

Match one came against West Valley, ranked #3 in the state. The Vaqueros had beaten West Valley in the second game of the season, 15-11, and in last year's CCCAA State Semifinal, 13-7. This time, the Vaqueros prevailed again, but not before a fervent late comeback attempt from their opponent.

A strong second quarter, with 5 goals from 5 different goalscorers, gave the Vaqueros a little breathing room at halftime, up 8-4. A solid third quarter combined with an early fourth quarter goal pushed the Vaqueros to a 12-6 lead.

However, West Valley scored twice midway through the final period to diminish the lead to 12-8. Another West Valley goal with about 90 seconds left forced the Vaqueros to anchor down, but a turnover lead to another goal with just over a minute to go. Luckily, the score would end 12-10, and after playing smoothly for 28 minutes with a hairy finish, the Vaqueros would add to their record start.

"It's great that we can make some mistakes but still come away with a win," Roth said.

Gabrielle Muehring was phenomenal, besting her previous career high in goals (3) with 5. Claire Daland was second on the team with 2.

Lily Carrick had a typical all-around strong match by her standards: 1 goal, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 3 exclusions drawn. Caroline Oates had 2 assists, and Maddie Myers drew 2 exclusions.

Addie Lane led the team with 3 steals, while Kate Densmore, Sofia Paez, and Oates had 2 apiece.

Match two came immediately following, under the lights against Cabrillo. An offensive barrage from SBCC, they scored 5, 3, 4, and 5 goals per quarter. That consistency carried the Vaqueros to a 17-8 victory, and another 2-0 start to a tournament.

This match, it was a different Gabi's turn to set a career high in goals. Gabi Turnbull was clinical, finding the back of the net 4 times, also dishing 2 assists.

Claire Daland was equally excellent, with 4 goals, 2 assists, 5 steals, an exclusion drawn, and a block. Addie Lane tallied 2 goals and 3 steals, while Lily Carrick contributed 2 goals and 2 assists. Caroline Oates also had 2 assists, and seven different Vaqueros had 2 or more steals: Daland (5), Lane (3), Gabrielle Muehring (3), Oates (2), Esther Sullivan (2), Maddie Myers (2), and Tayten Neiderhiser (2).

"[Goalie] Kate Densmore was great, both Gabi's [Muehring and Turnbull] were great," Roth said proudly, speaking on the day as a whole. "GT (Gabi Turnbull) is a great person; she had some really nice goals. I'm really happy for her."

Saturday was a big day with three games scheduled for SBCC, and it started bright and early at 8 AM with a matchup against UCSB's Club A team. The Vaqueros remained consistent, ending the first period up 5-1 and scoring 5, 5, 3, and 4 goals each quarter. They cruised to a 17-7 win.

Claire Daland, Esther Sullivan, and Lily Carrick tossed 3 goals each, while Gabrielle Muehring had 2. Addie Lane was generous, tying Lily Carrick's single-game season high in assists with 6, also tied for second most in a game in program history. Carrick dished 2 assists of her own.

Caroline Oates continued her solid defensive season, swiping 4 steals; Claire Daland also had 2.

After a few hours out of the pool, the Vaqueros came back against conference foe LA Valley. This match, the defense was the story. The Vaqueros allowed a goal with five seconds left in the first quarter, and then would blank LA Valley until less than two minutes left in the fourth. 10-3 was the final, improving the Vaqueros conference record to 4-0 and overall record to 28-0.

Esther Sullivan, Cate Daland, and Lily Carrick each had 2 steals apiece, but the defensive was more of a wall than a takeaway machine. LA Valley often had possessions that resulted in nothing, dumping the ball as the shot clock expired, speaking to the effectiveness of SBCC's defensive schemes and the players as a group for executing.

Addie Lane led 8 different Vaquero goalscorers with 3. Lily Carrick was the only one of 6 Vaqueros assisters with multiple, at 2. Truly, this was dominant showing where all 15 Vaqueros showed their prowess and contributed, as has been the case for numerous games this season.

Goalie Kate Densmore had her fourth consecutive match on the weekend with more saves than goals allowed, totaling 10 saves to just the 3 goals.

The final match for the Vaqueros of the weekend, and the third of the day, came against Cal State Northridge. It would be a homecoming for 2022 SBCC Utility, WSC Offensive Player of the Year, and CCCAA State Champion Jenna Olson. It would be the first time the Vaqueros would play a Division I opponent, and a top-25 one, at that.

From the get-go, the flow of play was markedly quicker and more physical than any of the Vaqueros' previous matches of the season. Northridge took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, but Maddie Myers answered back with an assist from Lily Carrick to halve the deficit. Another goal from CSUN a few minutes later ended the quarter 3-1.

Caroline Oates assisted Addie Lane on the first possession of the second quarter, and then Lily Carrick assisted Gabrielle Muehring to tie the game at 3 midway through the period. Northridge scored with a little over a minute before halftime and went into the break with a 4-3 lead, but SBCC outscored Northridge in the period.

After 2 goals from CSUN to open the scoring in the second half, Gabrielle Muehring answered for the Vaqueros, converting from 5 meters. After three quarters, the score was 6-4 CSUN.

The fourth period started like the second, with a goal on the Vaqueros' first possession, this time Cate Daland netting a beautiful goal. Suddenly, it was a 1-goal game in final frame. The Vaqueros were goal-hungry, looking to tie the game against their Goliath, hitting the post a handful of times and coming very close to an equalizing goal. Unfortunately, CSUN scored midway through the period, and then used that momentum to score twice more consecutively, ending the match 9-5.

"It got pretty physical there. I think we'll play too aggressive in our next match," Roth said with a laugh.

"It was an eye-opener for us. Just a great example of becoming better, which is always our goal," Roth added. "I think we grew a lot today and it was great for our confidence."

Most importantly, the Vaqueros played like they belonged. Getting off 27 total shots (this season's average is about 28 per game), the Vaqueros were not gun-shy, attacking and staying aggressive against an older, stronger, and quicker defense than they have been used to. Also, it proves that the offense was effective enough to still create a usual number of chances. Gabrielle Muehring led the team with 2 goals and Lily Carrick led the team with 2 assists.

Defensively, Kate Densmore and the Vaqueros defense held firm to allow less than double digit goals. Densmore had 8 saves, and overall SBCC had a whopping 22 steals. Addie Lane, Maddie Myers, Lily Carrick, and Densmore all had 4 steals apiece, while Gabrielle Muehring had 3 and Caroline Oates added 2.

"I think we were strong-minded," Claire Daland echoed her coach. "We play to a certain standard, win or lose. [By playing in a match like this] we learn how to play at a higher level. It's an opportunity to grow."

Although a DI opponent, CCCAA rules state that no official matches can be listed as exhibitions after the first official game of the season has been played, so the valiant loss will count against the Vaqueros' record. That means SBCC's perfect season ends at an incredible 28 consecutive wins, but still 27-0 against CCCAA opponents.

The #1-ranked Vaqueros play next on Monday—a rescheduled conference game—at Santa Monica at 1 PM. Then, they will travel to LA Valley next weekend for the WSC Conference tournament, putting their 8-year conference championship streak to the test.