The 2002 roller coaster ride that has defined the UCSB women’s water polo team continued over the weekend as the squad hosted No. 15 Michigan on Friday, followed by the annual Gaucho Invitational held at Campus Pool and at the Rec Center.
The Gauchos (10-7 overall, 1-0 MPSF) will be sore this morning with most of their games coming down to the last few possessions. In fact, three of the five matches went into overtime, which means the Gauchos essentially played the equivalent of six games this weekend.
In Friday’s match against Michigan, juniors Erin Lezak and Teressa Gorbett scored two goals apiece en route to an 8-7 victory at Campus Pool. The Wolverines, who trailed throughout, succumbed to a balanced Gaucho offensive attack.
Long Beach State jumped all over the Gauchos on Saturday, scoring five goals in the first half. That woke the slumbering Gaucho defense, which hasn’t allowed more than 10 goals in any home game this season. In the second half, goals by Gorbett and senior two-meter set Kelley Tiffany were not enough to make up the halftime deficit, and the defensive-minded 49ers coasted to a 9-5 victory.
“They were excellent in capitalizing on our offensive mistakes,” UCSB Assistant Coach Kevin Ricks said. “They went up a few goals early and we had a hard time getting back in the game.”
UCSB didn’t dig as deep a hole for itself in its next match against UOP, but early mistakes once again haunted the Gauchos. Yet Santa Barbara proved its mettle against the Tigers, and a three-goal onslaught in the fourth quarter sent the game into overtime. Senior co-captain Mary Blumberg and Gorbett scored their fourth and third goals of the game, respectively, and the Gauchos knocked off the Tigers in OT.
In a rematch of last weekend’s game, the UCSB was pitted against UCSD, and the Gauchos had revenge on their minds. However, wins have not come easily for Santa Barbara this season, and this game would be no exception. In their second of three overtime games on the weekend, the Gauchos were able to fend off an outmatched and inexperienced Tritons, 7-6.
Freshman utility Katy Kunkel and Lezak provided an early offensive spark for the Gauchos, finishing with two goals each in the contest.
But the Gaucho defense disappeared, and the Tritons scored five goals in the second half to knot the score, 6-6, at the end of regulation. The feisty Gauchos regrouped, however, and advanced to the ninth-place game on the shoulders of sophomore defender Mica Bell, who eventually scored the game winner.
The last game of the tournament for the Gauchos would prove to be the most disappointing, as poor officiating coupled with many missed offensive opportunities allowed UC Davis to win in sudden death overtime that never should have been close.
The Aggies were clearly outmatched against UCSB, but the Gauchos squandered numerous opportunities that could have put the game in the fridge in the second half. A goal off a broken play with four seconds left in regulation and arguably the worst penalty call of the season allowed Davis to win its third straight against the Gauchos, 4-3 Wasted was an outstanding team defensive effort, spearheaded by senior goalie Yvonne Conrad.
“They called their timeouts well, which put them in position to run some plays, but they shouldn’t have scored on that last play in regulation,” UCSB Head Coach Pam Tanase said. “It is disappointing, but we will continue to improve into next weekend.”