The UCSB women’s water polo team headed to Hawaii this weekend to compete in the Rainbow Classic Tournament. The Gauchos came home with second place in the tournament, as well as the new experience of playing against international teams. The three-day tournament brought teams from all over the world to the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex in Honolulu.
“It was really strange and challenging to play against teams from different countries,” sophomore goalie Christy Medigovich said. “We couldn’t anticipate their coaches’ calls because they didn’t speak English. We had to adjust.”
The Gaucho women showed the international teams how Santa Barbara plays water polo by defeating the Japanese Junior National team, Japan’s Seitoku University, Quebec University and the New Zealand team.
“We really didn’t know what to expect coming into this tournament,” sophomore utility Erika Clark said.
UCSB brought 16 of its top players to compete in this big international tournament.
“Every girl played in every game, we used the entire bench,” Clark said.
The championship game of this tournament came down to the #10-ranked Gauchos against the #1-ranked Bruins. This game was the Gaucho women’s fourth of the day. Due to bad weather conditions on Friday, the game versus Quebec was rescheduled for Sunday.
“We were so exhausted,” Clark said, “we played three hard games before our final, championship game.”
Though UCLA beat Santa Barbara with a score of 4-3, the Gauchos were not pushovers in the competition. UCSB started the second half of the game down 2-0, but soon recovered and cut UCLA’s lead in the third with a goal from freshman driver Corrine Salera. Junior two-meter offense Erin Miller and sophomore utility Alaina Whitaker each found the back of the net once, creating an intense matchup between the two American teams. The Gauchos came home satisfied with their second-place trophy.
“Even though we lost by one [goal], we played an amazingly good game of water polo,” Clark said.
Last Thursday, in hopes of pulling off an upset over #6 Hawaii, UCSB got off to a solid start with a 3-2 halftime lead. Despite two goals from sophomore driver Anie Kiening and Whitaker, the Gauchos relinquished their lead and lost 7-6. The Gauchos return to action this weekend and will host Arizona State on Saturday at noon and Stanford on Sunday at noon.