The ninth-seeded UCSB women’s water polo team stormed into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament at Stanford’s Avery Aquatics Center this past weekend with a first-round upset over eighth-seeded San JosŽ State.
Unfortunately, the Gauchos could not muster another win in the next three games.
After drowning San JosŽ State 3-2 on Friday morning, Santa Barbara dropped its next three matches of the weekend, losing 10-1 to top-seeded Stanford, 6-4 to fifth-seeded California on Saturday, and 7-4 to sixth-seeded Hawaii on Sunday morning.
Sophomore utility Katy Kunkel commented on the Gauchos’ tournament performance.
“Everyone was really proud of how we played,” Kunkel said. “We made huge strides since the beginning of the season and we showed it this weekend by playing every team really well.”
In Friday’s match against SJSU, the Gauchos kept the opposition scoreless in the first half thanks to freshman goalie Christy Medigovich’s steel curtain in front of the net. UCSB broke a scoreless tie in the third quarter behind senior offensive catalyst Teresa Gorbett.
After a scoreless first half, Gorbett found the back of the net in a six-on-five situation and put the Gauchos on the board first. Gorbett put UCSB up 2-0 in the fourth before Spartans sophomore two-meter Jessica Levin tied things up with two quick goals.
Immediately following the Spartan offensive rally, Gorbett again came up with the heroics, powering in the game-winning goal in the final quarter.
Gorbett’s hat trick was accompanied by six solid saves from Medigovich in the win.
In their second game of the day, the Gauchos’ attempt to pull off another upset, this time against the #1 Cardinal, fell short.
Stanford junior driver Brenda Villa scored four goals for the Cardinal, who improved to 20-2 after winning the MPSF Tourney. Sophomore two-meter Hannah Luber tacked on three more goals for Stanford. UCSB’s only score came courtesy of Kunkel during a six-on-five situation in the first quarter.
Things only got worse for the Gauchos. Santa Barbara stayed close with Cal, going into the half deadlocked at 2-2. The Golden Bears would get the best of UCSB, scoring two goals in each of the last two quarters. The Gauchos could only counter with two second-half goals.
“We had ups and downs in the tournament,” Kunkel said. “We played awesome against SJSU and could have just as easily beaten Berkeley if it wasn’t for a few debatable calls in the second half.”
Cal’s sophomore attackers Cara Chlebicki and Jodie Needles led their team with two goals each. Junior goalie Lauren Dennis stopped nine shots. UCSB senior two-meter Erin Lezak paced the Gauchos with two goals, finishing her Gaucho career with 100.
Lezak became the fifth player at UCSB to join the 100-goals club, joining current teammate Gorbett on the list. Gorbett and freshman utility Jen D’Anna scored the Gauchos’ other two goals. Despite the loss, Medigovich held her own behind the net with eight saves.
The Gauchos faced Hawaii in their final game of the tournament for seventh place. Bad things came in threes for Santa Barbara, which dropped its third straight game of the weekend.
Gorbett finished her Gaucho career on a positive note by notching her 45th goal of the season against the Warriors. Gorbett scored 117 goals in four years, good enough for third on UCSB’s all-time scoring list. Kunkel and freshmen utilities Alaina Whitaker and Erika Clark also scored.
“Everyone did a great job this season,” Kunkel said. “Seniors did a great job leading this team all year, considering we had to learn an all new program with [first-year UCSB Head Coach] Danielle Altman. Everyone adapted really well and was able to go with the flow.”
The Gauchos ended their season 16-16 and finished eighth overall in the tournament. Tournament host Stanford defeated UCLA 3-2 in the championship match on Sunday.