After getting off to a rough start to the season, the No. 18 UCSB women’s water polo team went into the UCSD Triton Invite hungry for wins. After a loss to No. 11 LMU in their first game, the Gauchos split their next two matches before closing out the weekend with an exciting 7-6 win over No. 9 San Diego State.
Coming away with a 2-2 record in the Triton Invite puts UCSB at 4-7 overall, while its Big West rival No. 17 UC Davis went 2-1 and is now 5-5 overall. LMU also won two out of three games to improve to 5-2 on the season.
The Gauchos entered their first game against LMU on Saturday coming off their biggest win of the season, a 12-7 thrashing of Claremont Mudd Scripps two weeks ago. This matchup would prove to be a much more difficult one for UCSB as the Lions came out strong with seven goals in the first half.
UCSB finally got on the board with a goal from freshman utility Sophie Trabucco before the end of the first quarter. Santa Barbara’s only other first-half goal came from sophomore utility Samantha Murphy on a power play, but the five-goal deficit at halftime was too much for her team to handle.
In an attempt to get back in the game, the Gauchos looked to sophomore utility Jessie Porter to lead the way. Porter scored three consecutive goals in the fourth quarter, while her defense played better than it had played all game, allowing just one LMU goal in the final period.
Despite the spirited comeback attempt, though, UCSB fell short with a final score of 10-7.
In their next match against Marist College later in the day, the Gauchos took advantage of their opponent defensively, shutting the Red Foxes out in the opening period.
UCSB took a 1-0 advantage off an early goal by sophomore attacker Bryn Hudson, but lost its lead after a Marist goal early in the second quarter.
After conceding their first goal of the game, the Gauchos finished out the half with one of their strongest performances in any quarter this season.
Freshman attacker Taylor Shore scored her second goal of the day to put UCSB back up 2-1, and her teammates took over from there.
Goals by freshman attackers Jenna Solberg and Carly Christian extended the Gauchos’ lead to three goals, and sophomore utility Holly Smith added another to make it 5-1 going into halftime.
Hudson made her mark in the second half by adding three more goals to her tally, giving her a total of four in the game.
Goals by freshman attacker Brenna Thomas and senior utility Jade Wentz Fitzgerald sealed the deal for UCSB as it cruised to a 10-4 victory.
On Sunday, the Gauchos split two tightly contested matches against two fellow top-20 ranked teams. Against UC Davis, UCSB fell just short by a final score of 6-5, but it answered back by taking down San Diego State in overtime, 7-6.
The win against San Diego was the Gauchos’ first against a top-20 team this year, bringing their record in those games to 1-7.
After taking next week off, UCSB will be back on the road for the UCI Invite, which begins Feb. 22 at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of Feb. 10th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of the Daily Nexus.