The No. 15 UCSB women’s water polo team has played seven games at home since March 11, including its first two games of the conference portion of their schedule. The Gauchos won five and lost just two of those games to improve their record 16-12 overall and 1-1 in the Big West.
The first game over the stretch came on March 11 when UCSB welcomed Harvard to Santa Barbara. Strong play in the first and third quarters helped the Gauchos overcome shaky play in the other two quarters and defeat Harvard 10-9. On March 14, they pulled off a fourth quarter comeback over Iona in a 7-6 win before dominating Bucknell 14-4 in a game in which the Gauchos outscored their guests 13-0 through the first three quarters.
UCSB’s next match came on March 25, when the team welcomed in Stanford, the second-ranked team in the nation. Though junior goalie Ruth Milne recorded 14 saves on the day, the Cardinal proved too much for the Gauchos to handle as they were handed a resounding 12-2 defeat. The next day, Santa Barbara bounced back against Brown. Milne once again made 14 stops and the offense outscored Brown 5-2 through the first three quarters on their way to an 8-5 victory.
On Saturday the Gauchos opened conference play against Long Beach State. The first quarter ended with a 1-0 advantage in favor of Long Beach, but the Gaucho offense stepped up in the second and third to give UCSB a 3-1 lead heading into the final period. Unfortunately, they were unable to hold on. CSULB added two more goals — the second coming with just under four minutes to go — to tie the match and force overtime.
Both goalies, including Milne who had 19 saves on the day, played excellently and neither team was able to find the net through the first four overtime periods. In the fifth one, however, junior Shelby Haroldson recorded her second goal of the day to finally bring the game to a close and give the Gauchos a 4-3 overtime victory.
Yesterday, UCSB faced a greater challenge in No. 6 UC Irvine. UCSB had already faced Irvine once before when they lost to the Anteaters 11-5 on Feb. 26 while taking part in the Irvine Invitational. This time, though, the Gaucho defense fought hard and kept the game close. The end result was no different from before as the Gauchos fell 8-4 to lose for just the second time in their last eight games.
UCSB will finish up its home schedule on Saturday, April 7, when they play Cal State Northridge for the third time this season in the morning and then face off with Cal Baptist in the evening. The Gauchos are 2-0 against Northridge this season. That game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., while the match against Cal Baptist is set to begin at 6:00 p.m.