No. 11 UC Davis takes first-round win over CSUN

DAVIS, Calif. - Fourth-seeded UC Davis and third-seeded Long Beach State each won their respective games to advance to the semifinal round of the Big West Conference women's water polo championship tournament at Schaal Aquatics Center Friday. The Aggies defeated CSUN, 12-7, while the 49ers edged UC Santa Barbara in a 7-6 overtime thriller.

UC Davis will take on top-seeded UC Irvine in Saturday's first semifinal. LBSU advances to the 3 p.m. semifinal game against second-seeded Hawai'i. UCSB and CSUN will square off in Saturday's opener to decide fifth place in the tournament.

Junior utility Paige Virgil scored four goals while junior center Greta Kohlmoos added three, leading 11th-ranked UC Davis to a 12-7 win over No. 20 CSUN in Friday's quarterfinal opener. The Aggies improve to 16-16 for the year, while the Matadors slip to 11-20 overall.

Sophomores Annie Kutt and McKenna Hauss added two goals each for UC Davis, while senior Daniela Hernandez tied team bests of three steals and two assists. Senior Hannah Harvey also recorded three thefts, with junior Heather Johnson matching that assists total.

Junior attacker Madeline Sanchez, who leads the Big West Conference in goals, paced CSUN with four goals in the contest. She also had four steals and a pair of drawn exclusions. Junior Shannon Hovanesian contributed three assists for the Matadors.

Sanchez scored twice in the first five minutes to boost CSUN to a 2-1 lead. Virgil answered with back-to-back scores on either side of the first-quarter break, and later held a 4-3 edge after Kutt's counterattack goal at 2:55 in the second. However, Emily Fuller and Sanchez each scored in transition to lock the two teams at 5-5 at halftime.

UC Davis exploded for four goals in the third quarter. Virgil scored two of those and assisted on another to Hauss, breaking the game into a 9-5 Aggie edge. The Matadors managed only two scores in the second half, as UC Davis goalie Avery Dotterer posted four saves to help lock down the two-meter area.

Senior defender Christina Kotsia scored three goals with four assists while sophomore Annabel Harman netted the game-winner, lifting No. 12 Long Beach State to its second consecutive overtime win against No. 17 UCSB. The 49ers improve to 17-11 for the season, while the Gauchos move to 15-13.

Harman scored two goals for the Beach, which overcame an early 3-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead early in the fourth. Goalie Eirini Patras notched 10 saves.

Sophomore utility Kate Pipkin led five scorers for UCSB. Both of her goals came in her team's 3-1 start during the first nine minutes of play. Sarah Kreiser and Taylor Shore each paired up for a goal and an assist.

Long Beach State chipped away at the deficit to a 4-3 deficit at halftime before getting three straight Kotsia goals in the second half to claim its first lead. A power-play converstion at 7:10 set the board at 6-5 for the 49ers, only to have Kreiser feed Shore for the equalizer at the 6:31 mark in the fourth.

Kotsia and Shore each had key steals for their respective teams down the final minute of regulation, forcing the extra frames. Massier drew an exclusion at the 2:03 mark, then Harman converted the 6-on-5 chance 19 seconds later for the only score of the overtime period. Kotsia also came up with a big field block against Shore in the final seconds of the second overtime segment, helping seal the 49er victory.

Long Beach State went four sudden-victory periods before clipping UCSB in the previous meeting, an 8-7 conference win back on April 15.

This is the ninth Big West Conference championship and the second hosted at UC Davis' Schaal Aquatics Center. The winner of the tournament earns the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championship, hosted by Indiana in early May.

Schaal Aquatics Center (Davis, Calif.)
Tournament seeded listed.

No. 5 CSUN (11-20) 2 3 1 1 - 7
No. 4 UC Davis (16-16) 2 3 4 3 - 12

GOALS - CSUN: Madeline Sanchez 4, Emily Fuller 1, Katelyn Fairchild 1, Lindsey Garcia 1. UC DAVIS: Paige Virgil 4, Greta Kohlmoos 3, Annie Kutt 2, McKenna Hauss 2, Sammy Preston 1.

GOALIE SAVES - CSUN: Niki Van Vugt 8 (32:00). UC DAVIS: Avery Dotterer 4 (32:00).

No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (15-13) 1 3 1 1 0 - 6
No. 3 Long Beach State (17-11) 1 2 2 1 1 - 7

GOALS - UCSB: Kate Pipkin 2, Brenna Thomas 1, Miranda Schrader 1, Sarah Kreiser 1, Taylor Shore 1. LBSU: Christina Kotsia 3, Annabelle Harman 2, Virginia Smith 1, Alexandra Massier 1.

GOALIE SAVES - UCSB: Devon Gasparini 6 (32:00). LBSU: Eirini Patras 10 (32:00).