When the UCSB women’s water polo team took to the pool over the weekend, it hoped to gain some momentum heading into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament next week. #4 Long Beach State and #1 UCLA had other plans.
The Gauchos dropped both matches over the weekend, falling to Long Beach State 7-3 on Friday and 12-0 to UCLA on Saturday. Santa Barbara has lost three straight and enters Friday’s tournament in ninth place.
UCSB honored senior drivers Laura Anderson, Jessica Fay and Megan Ricks, and senior two-meters Teresa Gorbett and Erin Lezak, before Friday’s match against LBSU.
“It was sad,” senior two-meter Gorbett said. “But I didn’t cry so I’m glad about that.”
But the mood soon changed as the 49ers took control of the match.
Senior utility Ashley Richardson began the scoring for LBSU at 4:25 with a long shot from the right side. Less than a minute later, 49er sophomore two-meter Robyn Gordin pushed the lead to 2-0. Freshman two-meter Cassie Azevedo scored the final goal of the first quarter, putting UCSB in a 3-0 hole.
Freshman goalie Christy Medigovich replaced junior Erin Enriquez for the Gauchos after not playing for a month due to injury. Sophomore two-meter Erin Miller put UCSB on the board with a goal with just under five minutes to play in the first half. Long Beach would push the game to 5-1 before halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Santa Barbara rallied behind freshman utility Erika Clark’s goal 26 seconds into the fourth quarter. Sophomore utility Katy Kunkel would bring Santa Barbara closer to 5-3 with her goal. Kunkel’s goal marked the ninth straight game in which she has tallied a goal.
LBSU (22-6, 8-2 in the MPSF) put the game out of reach when Richardson added her third goal and Azevedo punched in her second.
“It was a really physical match but we did a good job playing with them,” Gorbett said. “They beat Stanford, who is the top ranked team in our conference, so I thought we did a good job.”
Santa Barbara (15-13, 3-7) next traveled to UCLA, where they saw stars of a different kind.
The Bruins (19-3, 8-2) jumped all over the Gauchos, scoring six first-half goals while chasing two UCSB goalies from the game. Santa Barbara rotated Medigovich, Enriquez and junior Kristen McGlennon but could not find an answer to the Bruins’ attack.
Freshman driver Kelly Rulon and senior driver Maureen Flanagan scored two goals each for UCLA, and seven other Bruins tallied goals. The UCLA defense stopped six Gaucho shots and forced numerous shot clock violations.
“Everything was just going wrong against UCLA,” Gorbett said. “Our shots were off, the calls didn’t go our way, and nothing was hitting the back of the net.”
Santa Barbara will remain in the ninth seed heading into the MPSF tournament this weekend at Stanford. UCSB will play San Jose State on Friday at 10 a.m. in game one of the tournament. The winner will face #1 seed Stanford later that afternoon at 4:45.
“We haven’t beaten them in a few years so we are looking for a little revenge,” Gorbett said. “It’s a pretty even matchup.”