To say that the UCSB women’s water polo team has been caught in choppy water lately may be an understatement.

The Gauchos (12-15 overall, 4-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) have lost their last five games in a row, and they’re praying for some shift in the winds to provide for smooth sailing this weekend.

This upcoming weekend are the MPSF championships in Honolulu, Hawai’i, and these matches will be the final chance for Santa Barbara to right its ship by ending its tumultuous season on a positive note.

Just last weekend the Gauchos dropped their fifth straight match to lower-ranked San Jose State 12-5. The match against San Jose State was Senior Day, as well as the last home match that UCSB will take part in this year.

Santa Barbara is seeded seventh in this weekend’s tournament action. The squad will be pitted up against 10th-seeded Irvine (3-25, 1-9) in the first round of the championships. If history repeats itself then the Gauchos have a relatively good chance of handing the Anteaters a defeat since UCSB has risen to the top in both of its two matches against Irvine this season.

The Gauchos’ powerhouses in this weekend’s action will be found in two leading junior scorers, Kelley Tiffany and Mary Blumberg. Tiffany has a high of 45 goals for the season, and Blumberg isn’t far behind with 36 goals this year. Santa Barbara’s leading blocker for the season is senior Yvonne Conard, who has chipped in 144 blocks throughout the course of the year.

UCSB will be saying farewell to four graduating seniors after this weekend’s championships. Conard, Sayo Costantino, Elena Tinsler and Cathy Holmberg will take their last bows and pass the torches to the younger players. And with any luck on the Gauchos’ side, the seniors will be able to leave with at least one more win notched into their belts.

– Brooke Roberts