The UCSB women’s water polo season is officially over, after the Gauchos were unable to overcome a gutty performance by UC Irvine on Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Gauchos (17-17 overall) were beaten handily by a team they had thoroughly dominated only weeks ago. The loss handed Santa Barbara a tenth-place finish in the elite Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference. Santa Barbara finishes its season with a record of 17-17 and a few places shy of where it expected to finish.

“It is disappointing to lose your last game,” said senior utility Kim Feig.

The Gauchos might have been a bit too relaxed after their outstanding performance against CSU Northridge on Saturday. UCSB entertained the Matadors to a 12-1 drubbing in which eight different Gauchos scored.

The same disease that UCSB inflicted upon CSUN perhaps manifested itself and attacked the heart of the Gauchos against UCI. The Anteaters scored five first-half goals. Santa Barbara never led, and the Anteaters never let up.

“We didn’t play very well, and they took full advantage,” said goalie Yvonne Conrad. “We all share the responsibility, win or lose.”

Sunday’s game was almost a mirror image of the Gauchos’ tough 6-4 loss to Hawaii on Friday. In the first halves of both games Hawaii and Northridge jumped all over UCSB, whose season has been largely defined by its slow starts. Santa Barbara’s defense stifled Hawaii in the second half, but its offense just couldn’t catch up.

“This season, it usually takes a few goals by the other team for us to wake up and start playing well, senior co-captain Maureen Rabe said. “It is unfortunate because we just don’t have the firepower to play catch-up all the time.”

Indeed, such was the case against Hawaii, which scored all six of its goals in the first half and rode its defense to victory. The Gauchos were able to stop the Rainbows from scoring in the second half but couldn’t generate any offensive rhythm of their own.

Upset that they wouldn’t be contending for the conference title, the Gauchos took their disappointment out on a hapless Northridge team that had no chance from the get-go. Unfortunately, UCSB was unable to maintain that momentum going into Sunday’s ninth-place game, and the Anteaters pounced.