The Gaucho women’s water polo team owes much of its success this season to their leading scorer, sophomore utility Jennifer D’Anna.

D’Anna has shown her true colors, evolving into one of the team’s most valuable members.

Currently, D’Anna has scored 35 goals. Additionally, she has drawn 39 ejections, and made 14 assists, 33 steals and eight field blocks.

“Through hard work and a lot of focus, Jen goes after it every single game,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said, “Whether it’s a big or small game, she gives it everything.”

Though she is only in her second year at UCSB, D’Anna is a vital resource for Santa Barbara and has already developed greatly as a player. With 18 goals last year, D’Anna finished fourth on the team and first among the freshmen in total goals scored. After being named Rookie of the Year, it was evident that she had incredible potential. This year, D’Anna feels that she has been able to let go of any fears and play harder than ever before.

“Last year I was a timid freshman and I really didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so I was afraid to shoot. I was a little scared and definitely not as determined as I am now,” D’Anna said. “All in all, I am just more comfortable with the team now and I know it makes me play better.”

Her progress has been apparent to both the coaching staff and D’Anna’s teammates.

“This year Jen has taken a more active role on offense,” Altman said. “She has become a go-to player and really taken on the responsibility.”

Teammate and roommate sophomore utility Alaina Whitaker agreed with Altman, saying that D’Anna has developed into an all-around better player in many aspects of the game.

“She is really inspirational,” said Whitaker. “She is always supportive and positive, and just works well with everyone.”

D’Anna said she loves the closeness of the team and attributes this to UCSB’s success. Teammates enjoy playing with D’Anna due to her great personality and motivational character.

“I look forward to playing with her in the future,” Whitaker said. “She is stepping up to all positions and will get even better.”

D’Anna’s growth as a player is continuous, and according to Altman she will keep moving ahead with great stride.

“Jen is a player that contributes every day,” Altman said. “She is great to have on the team.”

Originally from Riverside, D’Anna attended Arlington High School, where she followed in her brother’s footsteps and took up the sport of water polo. Also a swimmer, D’Anna won awards such as Most Valuable Player, Most Valuable Swimmer, Press Enterprise Player of the Year, and was named California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division IV water polo Player of the Year.

“I decided to come to UCSB for many reasons,” D’Anna said. “I love the location and the team was great when I met them on my recruitment trip.”

The 5’8″ business economics major has her goals set high. Though she is unsure of where her major will take her, D’Anna is certain that she wants to attend graduate school. Although she sometimes finds it difficult to balance her schoolwork with the 18 hours of practice a week in addition to weekend games, D’Anna attributes much of her success to her roommates and teammates.

“When you get home from water polo practice you are exhausted and don’t want to do homework, but since both my roommates play, we all go to the library together and it makes things a lot easier,” D’Anna said.

After completing her four years at UCSB, D’Anna does not believe she will continue playing water polo.

“I think I will be done with polo, but I would like to coach someday,” D’Anna said.

A dynamic addition to the Gaucho’s team, D’Anna has immensely matured as a player, scholar, and teammate.

“This year I am not holding back, I am getting out there and taking chances,” D’Anna said.