Irvine, Calif. – Competing in the toughest nonconference tournament in the country, the No. 18 Pacific women's water polo team dropped a pair of games on the first day of the UC Irvine Invitational Saturday at the Anteater Aquatics Complex. The Tigers fell to second-ranked USC, 14-2, to open the day before losing a tight contest to No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, 7-4, in the afternoon.
Juniors Elise Martin and Rebecca Wright each scored twice on the day for Pacific. Both of Wright's goals came against UCSB while Martin scored once in each match. Junior goalkeeper Michele Relton manned the cage for the Tigers, stopping 12 shots against the Trojans and 11 versus the Gauchos.
The Tigers hung with the Trojans early, holding USC to just three first-quarter goals. A power play goal from Martin late in the first saw Pacific down just two scores after one frame. USC scored the first goal of the second quarter to regain a three-goal advantage, but Pye answered with a long-range strike, pulling the Tigers to within two midway through the period.
The rest of the match would be all USC as the Trojans notched two more goals in the second frame before outscoring Pacific 8-0 in the second half en route to the easy victory.
Four Trojans scored a pair of goals against the Tigers while goalkeeper Flora Bolonyai stopped seven of Pacific's attempts before being replaced by Alegra Hueso down the stretch.
Pacific looked determined to get back to its winning ways against UCSB in its second game of the day, scoring two first-quarter goals while shutting the Gauchos out for the first eight minutes. Wright got the Tigers on the board early, converting a skip shot, before Martin converted a power play opportunity to give Pacific a 2-0 lead after one. UCSB scored the lone goal of the second quarter as the Tigers led by one at the break.
Freshman Gracie Smith put Pacific back up by two early in the third, but the Gauchos would rip off four consecutive goals to take a 5-3 lead. Wright got her second of the match late in the frame, pulling the Tigers back to within one with one quarter left to play.
Pacific would go cold from there, failing to find the back of the cage during the fourth quarter. UCSB pulled ahead by two before converting midway through the period, then held the Tigers without a score the rest of the way.
Jessie Porter and Jade Wentz Fitzgerald each scored two goals for the Gauchos while Ruth Milne finished with seven saves before Mackenzie Brokaw concluded the game between the pipes.
The Tigers will look to get back in the win column tomorrow morning when they take on UC San Diego at 11:45 a.m. Both of Pacific's games tomorrow will take place at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach.
No. 2 USC 14, No. 18 Pacific 2
Pacific 1 – 1 – 0 – 0 –– 2
USC 3 – 3 – 5 – 3 –– 14
Pacific – Martin, Pye
USC – Daube 2, Gilchrist 2, Sardo 2, Vavic 2, Appel, Buckling, Cummins, Espar, McCall, Mendoza
Pacific – Relton 12
USC – Bolonyai 7
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara 7, No. 18 Pacific 4
Pacific 2 – 0 – 2 – 0 –– 4
UC Santa Barbara 0 – 1 – 4 – 2 –– 7
Pacific – Wright 2, Martin, Smith
UC Santa Barbara – Porter 2, Wentz Fitzgerald 2, Hudson, Murphy, Nelson
Pacific – Relton 11
UC Santa Barbara – Milne 7, Brokaw 3