The UCSB women’s water polo team didn’t want to end its season on a down note.
Instead, the bitter taste of defeat has been replaced by the sweet succor of revenge, and the UCSB women’s water polo team has given new meaning to the saying, “All’s well that ends well.”
The Gauchos were facing a gloomy close to their season after going 1-3 and ending up in eighth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships two weeks ago, but little did they know that a chance at redemption lay right around the bend. Santa Barbara was redeemed through the squad’s performance at the first-ever National Collegiate Select Championships located in Stockton, Calif. this past weekend.
Many other sports have a type of National Collegiate Select Championships that gives teams who did not make the top four cut in their conference a chance to compete in a championship tourney. However, until this year women’s water polo had not yet joined the ranks of sports that hold this type of annual event.
“It’s sort of how the basketball team has NITs [National Invitational Tournament],” senior leading scorer Kelley Tiffany said. “Since only four teams get to go to Nationals, the other teams get to go to [the NCSC].”
The NCSC turned out to be a blessing for Santa Barbara, as it gave the team another chance to beat the two teams that handed UCSB bitter defeats during the third and fourth round of the MPSF Championships – the University of Hawai’i and San Diego State.
In the first round of the NCSC, UCSB was pitted up against Pacific. The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but the Gauchos closed the gap and took control to win the match, 6-3. Santa Barbara sent a season-high total of 15 goals reeling into the back of the net to beat Irvine in the next round, winning by a convincing tally of 15-5.
The third round was the first grudge match for the Gauchos, and sophomore Jenny Holladay was able to break a 1-1 stalemate. Her third-quarter goal brought the Gauchos on top by one against Hawai’i. From that point, UCSB stayed on top and increased its lead to win the match against the Rainbows, 5-4.
“When we played Hawaii [in MPSF’s], they had home-court advantage,” Holladay said. “This time it was on neutral ground; we pretty much dominated the whole game.”
The championship match pitted UCSB vs. San Diego State. It was d