The UCSB women’s water polo team closed out its season with another disappointing conference loss. After starting out 2-0 in the Big West, Santa Barbara stumbled to a final 3-2 league record to take the third seed in next week’s conference tournament.
The #12 Gauchos opened up their weekend against #17 UC Davis in a strong fashion. The offense exploded in the first quarter, outscoring the Aggies 3-1. And all three goals came from the arm of junior utility Kathryn Nelson, who usually plays more of a defensive role.
UCSB then outscored Davis 5-2 in the next two quarters to take an 8-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Aggies had their strongest quarter in the fourth as they scored three goals, but the damage was too strong and Santa Barbara won 10-6.
“We couldn’t have asked for more,” Nelson said.
From there the Gauchos traveled to Stockton to take on Pacific. Just three weeks before, UCSB defeated the Tigers 8-5 at home, and the Gauchos had all the confidence in the world going into the rematch. However, Pacific surprised everyone and earned a different result.
Pacific opened up the game firing and outscored the Gauchos 2-1 in the first quarter. The Tigers then added to their lead by outscoring the Gauchos 4-3 in the second for a 6-4 lead at halftime. From there UOP was able to hold the Gauchos off, and eventually the Tigers won the game by a score of 13-9.
Having high hopes of closing out conference play with 4 wins, Santa Barbara was obviously disappointed.
“Everything went wrong,” Nelson said. “It was horrible.”
With the loss, UCSB enters the Big West Tournament as the #3 overall seed while Pacific is the #1 overall seed.
UCSB will open up against the #6 overall seed in Long Beach (8-19 overall, 0-5 in conference) this weekend. If Santa Barbara wins that game, they will advance to face Northridge for the fourth time this year, with the Matadors having won all three of their previous meetings.
However, having upset Northridge in the Big West semi-finals last year, the Gauchos know they have what it takes to do it again.
“Next weekend Northridge is going down,” junior utility Christie Clark said.
“It’s been a long season, but it all has been in anticipation of next weekend.”