Hawai’i water polo dominant in Senior Night win, completes perfect Big West regular season

Hawai’i water polo dominant in Senior Night win, completes perfect Big West regular season

(From left to right) Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine water polo seniors Alba Bonamusa Boix, Lot Stertefeld, Emma Gurasich and Lucia Gomez de la Puente pose for a picture after UH’s 12-3 Senior Night victory over #16 UCSB. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i dominant in Senior Night win, completes perfect Big West regular season

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APRIL 13, 2024

HONOLULU – Mo Goalz. 

The 2nd-ranked Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine water polo team capped off an immaculate run through the Big West conference schedule Saturday night, boat-racing 16th-ranked UC Santa Barbara (14-13, 1-5 Big West) on Senior Night with a 12-3 victory to send off four seniors and veteran head coach Maureen Cole with a dominant victory in their final appearance in the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatics Complex. 

Hawai’i recognized senior goalkeeper Emma Gurasich, attacker Alba Bonamusa Boix, utility Lot Stertefeld and attacker Lucia Gomez de la Puente after the match while honoring Cole in her final home match after 13 seasons as the head coach of the Rainbow Wahine water polo program. In all, Cole has been with the Hawai’i program for 18 seasons and picked up her 50th win in Big West competition on Saturday. 

A Senior Night full of smiles got started quickly as UH senior utility Lot Stertefeld helped the Rainbow Wahine (19-3, 7-0 Big West) on the board first with a goal just 39 seconds into the contest with a power play giving Hawai’i an advantage.  

UH junior center Bia Mantellato Dias put away her team-leading 56th goal with 3:54 left in the opening quarter to push Hawai’i’s lead to two midway through the first frame. The lead grew to a few as sophomore attacker Roni Perlman snuck in a quick score with seven seconds left in the first frame to give the Rainbow Wahine a 3-0 advantage after one quarter. 

After winning the opening sprint in the 2nd quarter, Hawai’i extended the lead with two more goals in three minutes as Agatha Weston and Morgan Rios got in on the fun for the Rainbow Wahine. Consistent pressure and mounting momentum for Hawai’i forced the hand of UC Santa Barbara as the Gauchos called for timeout with 4:09 remaining in the 1st half.  

The stoppage did not slow Hawai’i as Perlman deposited her second goal of the night 26 seconds after the UCSB timeout to make it 6-0 in favor of the ‘Bows. Hawai’i senior attacker Alba Bonamusa Boix became the second of the seniors to put away a goal at the 3:05 mark of the 2nd quarter to extend the UH lead to seven.  Two minutes later, fellow senior attacker Lucia Gomez de la Puente completed the trio of UH seniors that would score on the night with a goal to push it to 8-0. 

Hawai’i freshman Esmee Roijen made it 9-0 with a goal with 21 seconds left in the half, but UC Santa Barbara’s Leigh Lyter snuck a goal through with two seconds remaining to break the scoring drought and send the Gauchos into the break trailing, 9-1. 

The fourth senior, goalkeeper Emma Gurasich, began the 2nd half in the net for Hawai’i as all four players that would be honored recorded statistics in the box sheet. While Gurasich recorded a pair of saves, Dias added her 57th goal of the year and second of the night at the 4:53 mark of the 3rd quarter to make it 10-1 in UH’s favor. 

Hawai’i junior attacker Bernadette Doyle made it a 10-goal lead for the ‘Bows with her first goal of the night coming at the 3:57 mark of the 4th quarter. UCSB responded with a pair of goals within 70 seconds of each other, but UH freshman attacker Allegra Childs’ goal with 2:07 left to play sent the good vibes into the end of the night as Hawai’i cruised to a 12-3 victory. 

Gurasich and UH starting keeper Daisy Logtens combined for 10 saves as the senior Gurasich allowed a pair of goals in her 16 minutes of action. Freshman keeper Daisy Logtens allowed one score just before exiting as the Hawai’i defense flexed all evening. 

The Rainbow Wahine scored on nearly half of their shot attempts, taking 28 shots to score 12 goals on the night while the defense tied a season-low in goals allowed with just three UCSB scores coming from 22 shots. 

Hawai’i won three of the night’s four sprints, failing to capture possession to begin a quarter in just the third period. In all, nine different Rainbow Wahine scored on the night while UH totaled 17 points to just three from UCSB.  

Hawai’i secured an outright claim to the Big West regular season title with the win, completing the third perfect run through the conference schedule since joining the Big West in 2013 and the second unbeaten conference record for UH in three seasons. Hawai’i outscored conference opponents 100-39 in 2024 and never trailed throughout seven matches in Big West play.  

The Rainbow Wahine will now wait two weeks before returning to the pool for a match on Friday, April 26 in the opening round of the Big West Championships. Hawai’i will take on the 8th seed in the tournament after securing the top seed with the match scheduled for 7 a.m. HT.