Tigers Hang Strong, Pull Off 12-9 Win Over No. 7 UC Irvine

Tigers Hang Strong, Pull Off 12-9 Win Over No. 7 UC Irvine

STOCKTON, Calif. - The No. 8 women's water polo team pulled off an impressive 12-9 victory over No. 7 UC Irvine on Sunday.

The Tigers (12-7) sweep two matches with the Anteaters (9-12) this season and hold a first place ranking in GCC standings with an unbeaten record of 4-0. 

Fighting for the seventh seed in NCAA rankings, neither team gave an inch throughout the match.

UCI got on the board first as the Anteaters put up two goals in the fifth and fourth minute to grab an early 2-0 lead. Pacific then countered with five straight unanswered goals as Viktoria Szmodics and Kyra Christmas each tallied two goals a piece to end the period. The two either scored or assisted on four of the Tigers five goals in the first.

Christmas led things off for the Orange and Black in the second registering her third goal of the afternoon at the 5:48 mark to give Pacific a 6-3 cushion. The Calgary, Alberta native finished with a hat trick, five assists, and two steals. The redshirt sophomore also had a team-best four blocks on the day. 

Christmas' three goals on the afternoon pushed her career total to 115, now moving to 13th place all-time in program-history. 

Despite a managable lead by the Tigers, Irvine clawed back into the game scoring two late goals in the second period to cut the deficit to 7-6. Irvine outscored the Tigers 3-2 heading into halftime. 

In the third, Karolina Hlavata kicked things off with two consecutive goals at even strength, both of which were assisted by Christmas. Hlavata finished the weekend with seven goals for the weekend.

Mariana Duarte followed Hlavata's goal with a score of her own at the three minute mark, helping signal a turning point in momentum for Pacific. Duarte had a game-high 10 shots on goal and finished with two goals for the day. 

Another goal by Duarte at 7:42 and a go-ahead score by Rachel Krieger at 4:38 in the fourth put Pacific in the driver's seat and helped seal the victory. 

Alexis Hollinrake also had a solid day in the cage for the Tigers. The senior keeper recorded seven saves and four steals in Sunday's contest. Hollinrake has tallied seven or more saves on nine occasions this season.

The Tigers are home at Chris Kjeldsen Pool next week as they take on No. 21 San Diego State and Fresno State.