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Butler, Garczynski Lead Beach Water Polo To Big West Title

Alexis Butler shined on senior day, grabbing a career-high 17 saves.
April 23, 2016

LONG BEACH, Calif. -

No. 13 Long Beach State women's water polo won the team's first Big West Title as they topped No. 7 UC Santa Barbara, 7-6. Emily Garczynski provided the game-winning goal with one-second left to seal the win for the Beach on senior day.

Senior Alexis Butler shined in her final regular season match with LBSU, garnering a career-high 17 saves. Garczynski scored the last three goals for the Beach - the tying goal, the go-ahead goal, and the game-winner.

UCSB broke out with an early lead early in the first period, scoring three goals in the opening three minutes of the match. The Beach had their chances, but the shots were either going wide or over the net.

It wasn't until the two-minute mark when LBSU's Alexandra Massier drew an ejection. The Beach scored immediately after as Jessica Brooks made the quick pass to Massier who dumped it in. There were big opportunities for both teams to end the quarter, but the scored stayed the same as UCSB led 3-1.

Bryn Hudson scored an early exclusion goal for the Gauchos to extend the lead back to three, but LBSU gained the momentum with their performance on both sides of the net. Annabel Harman hit a bounce shot that skipped pass UCSB goalie Mackenzie Brokaw. The Gauchos came back with three consecutive possessions that the Beach defesnse was able to hold off. Butler made a big save off UCSB's first shot, the second shot hit off the right post and bounced back to the Gauchos, and the third shot went off a Beach defender.

LBSU was able to use that momentum, gaining the man advantage and scoring off a perimeter shot from Tori Morrissey with 1:12 left to go in the half. UCSB had the last say, however, as a backhanded goal went in for Martin to end the quarter with a 5-3 lead. Butler made five saves in the second period.

It was an intense third quarter as the Beach fought their way back from a two-goal deficit, starting with the defense. Butler made a big save on a skip shot from UCSB's Samantha Murphy. From there, both goalies made some key stops. On the third the third attempt inside, Massier shot it in while on the man advantage with the pass from Brooks to cut the deficit to one, 5-4.

LBSU continued to get the stops they needed, both in part with their defense by forcing shot clock violations from the Gauchos, and by key saves from Butler. UCSB had a 3-on-2 advantage going the other way with Sarah Kreiser breaking free from her defenders, but Butler made the point-black save against Kreiser to keep the Gauchos at five.

With just over a minute to go, sophomore Garczynski gave the Beach the tying goal from the perimeter while on the man advantage. Both teams went into the final quarter even at five. Butler had another five saves in the third to blank Gauchos.

The intensity grew in the fourth as both teams picked up their defense, not allowing a goal in the first five minutes of the quarter. It wasn't until the 2:49 mark that Garczynski gave the Beach the go-ahead goal and first lead of the game at 6-5. The Gauchos were quick to answer, drawing an exclusion and capitalizing. Miranda Schrader scored her third goal of the match to tie it back up at six.

LBSU ended up with the final possession of the match, going on the man advantage with just 14 seconds left. The ball bounced around at the top - Garczynski to Brooks to Garczynski again, who finally shot the ball and scored in the final second of the game. Butler made another five saves in the fourth quarter.

This win gives LBSU the top seed in the Big West Tournament next weekend, gives head coach Gavin Arroyo his best finish to the conference, and gives the Beach its first Big West Title since joining the conference.

1. Long Beach State (17-10, 4-1 Big West)
2. UC Irvine (18-10, 3-2 Big West)
3. UC Santa Barbara (15-12, 3-2 Big West)
4. Hawai'i (18-7, 3-2 Big West)
5. UC Davis (17-11, 3-2 Big West)
6. Cal State Northridge (10-19, 0-5 Big West)

The Big West Tournament will be hosted by UC Santa Barbara next weekend from Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1st. More information about the tournament can be found on the Big West Championship page.




No. 7 UC Santa Barbara 6, No. 13 Long Beach State 7
Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center · Long Beach, Calif. · 4/23/16




PPU - Miranda Schrader 3, Lauren Martin 2, Bryn Hudson
LBSU - Emily Garczynski 3, Alexandra Massier 2, Tori Morrissey, Annabel Harman


PPU - Mackenzie Brokaw 6
LBSU - Alexis Butler 17

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