California's Tiera Schroeder
Courtesy of: Joon Baik
Let the race to the women's NCAA water polo championship tournament begin!

Two tournaments and two pre-season dual meets highlighted the first weekend of action in women's NCAA water polo.

University of California, Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara senior Rachel Nelson scored four goals to pace the Gauchos to a 13-10 victory over Cal State Bakersfield at the Hillmans Aquatic Center in Bakersfield Jan. 18. Nelson scored the first goal just 30 seconds into the game. Also contributing to the Gaucho's cause were freshman Samantha Murphy (three goals), sophomores Jade Wentz Fitzgerald and Lauren Martin (two goals each) and single goals by senior Nancy Ruano and freshman Bryn Hudson. The Roadrunners' senior Jessica Browning led all scorers with five goals. Sophomore goalie Alex Bayer made 10 saves during the game.

The next day found the Gauchos traveling to Loyola Marymount to meet Cal State San Bernardino in a neutral-site contest as part of the LMU Opening Weekend Showcase. The Gauchos were again dominating, parlaying a 5-2 first quarter lead into a 20-3 victory. Junior Molly Hafferkamp and freshman Holly Smith scored three goals each, with four others--sophomore Claryann Olofsson-Loo, Martin, Hudson and Murphy--adding two apiece. Senior goalie Ruth Milne kept the Coyotes scoreless throughout the first half.

California Golden Bears vs. University of the Pacific Tigers, Jan. 19
A five-goal third period helped the #4 ranked Cal Bears pull away from the Pacific Tigers, winding up with a 14-4 final score. The score was relatively close after the second quarter (6-3), but two goals by Ashley Young and another by Dana Ochsner helped the Bears to their eventual triumph. Tiera Schroeder was the leading scorer for both teams with 3. Savanna Smith recorded five saves for the Bears.

Sophomore Brydie Pye scored twice for the Tigers, with classmates Taylor Adair and Kelsey Carter contributing goals as well. Junior goalkeeper Michele Relton recorded eight of her 11 saves in the first half of the game.

LMU Opening Weekend Showcase, Jan. 19
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) welcomed California Baptist, Cal State San Bernardino (CSSB) and UC Santa Barbara to its Westchester, Calif., campus for the LMU Opening Weekend Showcase. UC Santa Barbara and Cal State San Bernardino led off with their non-tournament match.

For the first time in seven years--and the fourth time in the school's history--LMU posted a shutout, defeating the Cal Baptist Lancers 11-0. Sophomores Laura Lopez and Mackenzie Beck, plus freshman Ivana Castro, contributed two goals apiece. Freshman goalie Claire Wright made seven saves and, with strong defense, the Lions were able to shut out the Lancers.

CSSB remained winless throughout the tournament, as they were defeated by both California Baptist (23-5) and LMU (22-3). LMU finished the tournament by holding a scrimmage with California Baptist, winning 10-8.

Michigan Kick-Off, Jan. 19-20
The host Wolverines led off their tournament with a 15-9 triumph over Colorado State. Michigan was ahead 4-3 and 8-4 in the first half; the Rams scored four goals in the third to bring it to 11-8, but Michigan answered with four goals of their own in the last period. Michigan was led by seniors Kiki Golden (four goals) and Lauren Colton (three goals). The leading Rams scorer was sophomore Kelcy Barott with four goals. Michigan would go on to lose to UCLA (12-3), San Jose State (9-6) and San Diego State (11-10).

The last game of the tournament saw No. 14 Indiana give No. 3 UCLA a tough battle in the first half of their match. The Bruins got on the scoreboard first, but the Hoosiers came back with three unanswered goals to give them a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. UCLA, thanks to redshirt sophomore Sami Hill, shut Indiana down the next two quarters while the Bruins collected four more goals to bring the score to 5-3 at the end of the third quarter.

The final score was 8-4. Sophomore Emily Donohoe led all scorers with four goals. Senior Emily Greenwood scored two goals, with freshman Rachel Fattal and senior Gisselle Naranjo putting in one goal apiece. For Indiana, redshirt senior Jackie Kohli had two goals; senior Shelby Taylor and freshman Candyce Schroeder put in one each.

Final scores from the tournament:

Day 1
Michigan 15-Colorado State 9
San Jose State 12-Indiana 10
UCLA 12-San Diego State 8
Indiana 10-Colorado State 7
San Diego State 10-San Jose State 9
UCLA 12-Michigan 3

Day 2
San Jose State 9-Michigan 6
San Diego State 11-Indiana 5
UCLA 14-Colorado State 6
San Diego State 11-Michigan 10
San Jose State 16-Colorado State 8
UCLA 8-Indiana 4