Late-Game Heroics Lift No. 19 Women's Water Polo Past Santa Clara, No. 13 UC Santa Barbara

Late-Game Heroics Lift No. 19 Women's Water Polo Past Santa Clara, No. 13 UC Santa Barbara

Martinelli posted a team-high six goals on the day (Gil Talbot).

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The No. 19 Harvard women's water polo team earned a pair of thrilling victories Saturday afternoon at Campus Pool to wrap-up its nine-game California road trip. The Crimson opened the day outlasting Santa Clara, 7-5, before a last-second goal by Michelle Martinelli sunk No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, 9-8.

Harvard ends its California swing with a 7-2 record, marking its highest win total on its annual West Coast trip ever, while its victory over UC Santa Barbara marked the second time this season the Crimson has downed the No. 13 team in the country, matching its highest ranked defeated opponent ever.

Harvard 7, Santa Clara 5

In a defensive slugfest, a four-goal output by the Crimson in the opening period proved to be the difference as Harvard (18-4) held on for the 7-5 triumph over Santa Clara (6-9). Rachel Lobato and Martinelli each tallied a pair of scores, while Cleo Harrington recorded 11 saves between the pipes.

Martinelli fired home the opening goal of the game, but the Broncos answered right away. Kristen Hong retook the lead for Harvard, converting on a penalty shot before Lobato and Martinelli closed out the opening period with scores, pushing Harvard's advantage to 4-1. Charlotte Hendrix kept the momentum on the Crimson's side to start the second frame, furthering Harvard's lead to 4-0 before Santa Clara tallied back-to-back goals to make it a 5-3 game at the half.

The second half saw the offenses come to a hault as both teams exchanged a goal apiece in each of the remaining periods. Yoshi Andersen tallied the lone score for the Crimson in the third, while Lobato tacked on her second of the game in the final period as Harvard held on for the 7-5 victory.

Harvard 9, UC Santa Barbara 8

Martinelli proved to be the hero in the finale, netting the go-ahead goal with two seconds left to lift Harvard to its first win ever against UC Santa Barbara (11-9). Harrington was the star on the defensive end once again, rejecting 15 shots in net, including numerous open-look, power play shots.

The Gauchos netted the opening goal before Melissa Balding tabbed two-straight scores and Martinelli pushed across another as part of a 3-0 Crimson run. UC Santa Barbara took one back in the final seconds of the frame, but Harvard held the upper hand at 3-2. The Crimson's offense sputtered in the second stanza as the Guachos tied it up at 3-3 heading into the break.

Harvard and UC Santa Barbara exchanged blows in the third period as neither team could pull away. Balding, Lobato and Nikki Daurio each snapped the back of the net as the score held at 6-6 heading into the final period. Martinelli pulled Harvard ahead in the conclusive period, scorching a pair the opening two minutes, but the Gauchos matched Martinelli's output to tie it at 8-8 with 32 seconds remaining. Down to the final possession of the game, Martinelli snapped the game-winning goal with two seconds remaining to lift the Crimson to its sixth-straight victory in the Golden State.

Harvard will return to Blodgett Pool for its final time this season as it will host Hartwick at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.