Riding a six-game win streak, the UCSB women’s water polo team lost its first game in over a month last weekend 7-6 to Northridge.
Despite having lost to CSUN twice this year already, the Gauchos entered the game brimming with confidence from their hot streak. However, the Matadors tamed Santa Barbara in the fourth and final quarter to take the top spot of the Big West Conference.
After leading for most of the game, the final result left UCSB devastated.
“It was really disappointing,” junior utility Kathryn Nelson said. “I don’t think I have ever been so mad after a game.”
Northridge opened up the scoring in the first quarter of the game, but Santa Barbara responded just seconds later off a goal from junior attacker Katie Kepner. At the end of the first quarter, the score remained deadlocked at an even two goals.
However, UCSB came out firing in the second to outscore the Matadors 2-1 for a 4-3 lead at half.
The defensives stepped up in the third as both teams only scored one goal and Santa Barbara lead 4-3 heading into the fourth quarter.
However, the fourth is where the Gauchos came unraveled. UCSB was outscored by Northridge 3-1 in the final quarter, with the last goal coming with just 20 seconds of regulation left. In a 6-6 tie as time wound down, the Matadors ran a solid counterattack and were awarded a five-meter penalty shot and a chance to win the game.
Freshman goalkeeper Ruth Milne, who had already made 11 saves on the day, was confident. But after the whistle blew, the Matador shot found the back of the net and Northridge sealed a 7-6 victory.
“The final penalty shot was so much pressure,” Milne said. “The ending was really upsetting.”
The strength of the Northridge senior goalkeeper Jillian Stapf against UCSB continued. Throughout the game, the Gauchos missed three five-meter penalty shots and Stapf had eight saves overall.
Due to this, Nelson believes the Gauchos lost the game more than Northridge won it.
“We made mistakes at the wrong time,” Neslon said. “Next time we’ll keep them from getting lucky.”