The UCSB women’s water polo team finished its season on a down note this past weekend, falling to Stanford at the Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday, 13-4, and to San Jose State on Sunday, 12-5.
The score of the Stanford game did not reflect how well the Gauchos played, however. Stanford finished the year undefeated, becoming the first women’s college water polo team to ever complete a regular season unscathed. Santa Barbara exhibited solid team defense against the Cardinal. Senior goalie Yvonne Conard had a strong individual performance with eight saves on the day.
“I just did what I usually do,” Conard said. “We played Stanford really close. We went in there and just had fun.”
Junior Kelley Tiffany tied the score 1-1 with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, but UCSB would get no closer. Stanford proceeded to pull away by scoring three more goals before the quarter ended. Juniors Mary Blumberg and Britt Riss and sophomore Megan Wertz also scored goals against the Cardinal.
“We played really well, despite the score,” Tiffany said. “It was fun. Everybody got to play.”
The match against San Jose State on Sunday was a disappointing loss for Santa Barbara, though.
“We didn’t play well as a team,” Blumberg said. “Our heads were not in the game.”
UCSB played the Spartans very closely in the first two quarters, but found itself down 3-4 as the first half ended. San Jose State put the match away in the second half, outscoring the Gauchos, 8-2. Sophomore Teresa Gorbett scored twice against SJSU. Blumberg, Wertz, and sophomore Megan Ricks also scored goals.
“[The San Jose State game] was really disappointing,” Conard said. “We didn’t play to our full potential. We just weren’t clicking. It was a really hard loss.”
Though Santa Barbara did not play well against the Trojans, Tiffany believes the loss will serve as motivation for the team to work harder.
“San Jose State was an eye-opener for us,” Tiffany said. “It really showed us we need to get together as a team. At practice this week, we’ve been working really hard at our defense and our offense.”
Sunday marked the last regular season game for UCSB, which finished the year with a 12-15 record. Next up for the Gauchos will be the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament this coming weekend.
“This hasn’t been a very balanced season,” Tiffany said. “We’ve played really well and we’ve been really bad. I think we can prove ourselves at the tournament. We get no more second chances. We just need to get it done.”
The team will be leaving for Hawai’i on Wednesday and feels confident about their ability to perform well and conclude the year on a positive note.
“I’m really excited,” Blumberg said. “I’m ready to play and I know the girls are ready to play. We’ve decided to play water polo as a team and I think we will do really well.”