After a tough six overtime loss on a senior day, the No. 12 UCSB women’s water polo team looks to regroup in its final match of the regular season, as it is set to play on the road against No. 24 Cal State Northridge.
The loser of this matchup will finish at the bottom of the Big West standings in regular season play. Both teams are currently looking for their first conference wins of the season.
UCSB will travel to face the Matadors in hopes of improving upon its 15-11, 0-4 record. Meanwhile, CSUN is hoping to end its streak of seven consecutive losses, going into the weekend 10-19 and 0-4. CSUN hasn’t won a regular-season conference game since 2015 and will hope to avoid repeating last season’s finish of zero conference wins.
Last weekend’s nail-biting defeat to Long Beach State extended UCSB’s losing streak to three games. A victory on the road against a struggling Matador team could provide a late jumpstart of momentum heading into the Big West tournament.
In addition to its seven-game slump, Cal State Northridge’s losing woes include 10 losses in their last 11 games. Over the span of their losing streak, the Matadors have allowed 12 goals per game.
Notably, CSUN is winless at home this season while UCSB is 2-3 in true road games.
The Gauchos have a chance to earn their third win over the Matadors this season after defeating them twice in February. Santa Barbara controlled the two previous meetings, securing victories with 11-8 and 11-6 finishes.
As many teams have experienced, Northridge had absolutely no answer for senior utility Taylor Shore, who poured in four goals in each game. Nonetheless, Shore’s scoring ability is one of many components that help to produce goal-scoring opportunities for her teammates as well.
This is an opportunity for Shore to get back to her scoring ways, building off her two-goal performance last weekend.
“We have a lot of great players on our team. Even last game we had six different girls that scored seven goals, so it’s not just Taylor [Shore]” Assistant Coach Sierra Peltcher said. “It’s great that other people can step up even if Northridge were to cancel her out.”
Looking to challenge UCSB’s scoring attack will be Matador junior attacker Madeleine Sanchez, who has risen to the top of the Big West in goals scored on the season. Sanchez’s 60 goals this season is still not enough to top her total of 73 goals last year in her sophomore campaign.
Only eight players in Big West conference history have recorded more than 73 goals in a single season. Sanchez is one of the few threats to score on a Northridge team that averages the least amount of goals per game (8.14) in the Big West.
The Gauchos’ freshman goalkeeper, Kenzi Snyder, will make it difficult for the Matadors to score with her tremendous play as of late.
Last weekend the Santa Ana, Calif. native recorded 13 saves and was the focal point to UCSB surviving during its extensive overtime bout. Snyder’s 192 saves this season ranks second in the Big West and first among Big West freshmen. With a strong anchor in the defense, UCSB is capable of disrupting the recent success of the prolific Sanchez.
As the struggles of Northridge continue, Santa Barbara can bury the Matadors at the bottom of the standings with a victory. The Gauchos are concentrating on what they can control as they head into this crucial part of the year.
“A lot of our season right now is just focusing on ourselves and working on our plays and tactics,” Peltcher said.
UCSB will battle Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at Matador Pool to finish off the regular season.
A version of this story appeared on p. 9 of the April 13, 2017, edition of the Daily Nexus