The #11 UCSB women’s water polo team played the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s two highest ranked teams this weekend, losing to #1 USC on Saturday in Los Angeles and to #2 UCLA on Sunday at Campus Pool.
The Trojans built a sizable 5-2 halftime lead and cruised to victory with five more goals in the second half. Sophomore utility Jennifer D’Anna found the back of the net twice while freshman two-meter defense Aimee Stachowski notched a goal of her own.
“We played a good game until half,” freshman driver Leslie Resovsky said. “After that we just lost the intensity and couldn’t score.”
The Trojans scored five consecutive goals in the third and fourth quarters to finish off Santa Barbara 10-3 and give the Gauchos a 0-1 league record.
“We had two good quarters of water polo and we needed four,” UCSB Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “What we need is 28 minutes in a row of playing strong.”
On Sunday, Santa Barbara returned to its home pool but didn’t get much of a break against #2 UCLA. Although the Gauchos were defeated by a score of 5-2, they played with inspiration against one of the best teams in the nation.
“I believe this is the best game we have played so far; we created opportunities and played a solid game,” Altman said. “UCLA is ranked #2 in the nation, but we really came together and played as equals. This game really showed promise for the future of this team.”
The first two quarters started out slowly on both sides of the ball. UCSB gave up two goals to the Bruins and missed two four-meter goal opportunities to hit the halftime break down 2-0. In the third quarter, the Gauchos gave up three more goals to the Bruins but didn’t allow their point total to exceed five goals. Junior utility Katy Kunkel scored a four-meter shot and the Gauchos registered their first goal of the day. Sophomore utility Alaina Whitaker found net and scored Santa Barbara’s second goal, but the Gaucho comeback was cut short as time expired. The 5-2 defeat dropped Santa Barbara’s overall record to 6-4 and MPSF record to 0-2. Despite the loss, the team felt that the game was an exceptional achievement.
“This was one of the first days where we really played together,” Kunkel said. “We played really strong as a team.”
This weekend Santa Barbara will host its annual invitational tournament all day Saturday and Sunday at the Campus Pool. The Gauchos open the tournament against the University of Hawaii at 10:15.